Rally held for laid-off Century City janitors

CENTURY CITY, LOS ANGELES The protest shut down traffic for a while but everything was back to normal Thursday afternoon. Even though there were some arrests, police say it was a very orderly demonstration.

Hundreds of protesters marched along the busy Avenue of the Stars midday, stopping at the corner of Constellation, near the Century Plaza building owned by J.P. Morgan Chase. The demonstrators were upset that 16 janitors were laid off from their jobs.

"They're a multi-million dollar company and they're laying off the lowest-paid people in the building," said protester Terri Green. "The people that clean up behind them. The people that take care of their events, that clean up behind their events, and we just don't think it's fair."

In a show of support, dozens of other janitors at Century Plaza walked off the job. The SEIU United Service Workers West, the union representing the janitors, says it wants to sit down with J.P. Morgan Chase officials and work something out.

"We understand that we're not going to be able to protect all our jobs, but what we're asking for is to sit down and negotiate a reasonable solution," said David Huerta, vice president of United Service Workers West. "We're not going to protect everyone, but we should be able to protect some of the folks who are being laid off."

Police officers kept watch over the demonstration, only moving in and making arrests after more than a dozen people formed a circle and sat in the middle of an intersection, a planned act of civil disobedience.

"There were approximately 12 to 15 people in the intersection who sat down. We effected arrests of those individuals. The other individuals left the location," said LAPD Capt. Evangelyn Nathan.

"They're willing to risk arrest and civil disobedience in reaction to the measures that J.P. Morgan has taken," said Huerta.

J.P. Morgan released a statement: "The dispute is between a vendor and employees, not Chase. That employee is a janitorial contractor," wrote Gary Kishner.

Thursday's protest was one of several events in support of the janitors this week.

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