Building Worker Power: The Ya Basta Center
In 2015, the Frontline documentary Rape on the Night Shift exposed the widespread vulnerability of women janitors to sexual assault and rape on the job. As an organization that represents janitors, we at Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW) had to ask ourselves where these cases were, and why weren’t women coming forward to report to them to the union? Our janitor leaders, many of whom were survivors of rape and assault, developed a plan to screen the documentary with union members across the state to open up a dialogue. What they found was that many of the survivors of rape and sexual assault faced significant barriers when trying to report these crimes. These janitor leaders realized that they were in a unique position to change the industry because they understood the particular issues that janitors were facing. They called themselves Promotoras and said “ya basta” to rape on the night shift.