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Service Employees International Union released the following news release today:

NEWS RELEASE CONTACT: Gretchen Wright September 12, 2002 Mariama Diao 202/371-1999

A Child’s Eye View of a Hard-Working Mom’s Fight for a Better Life

New Bilingual Children’s Book Tells the Story Of the 2000 Los Angeles Janitors’ Strike

WASHINGTON, DC The best children’s books teach readers important life lessons. But in contemporary children’s literature, most of those lessons are told from the perspective of a middle class child. Author Diana Cohn has broken new ground with the story of Carlitos, a little boy whose mother works as a janitor cleaning downtown office buildings every night. In the entertaining and powerful story, Carlitos joins his mother in standing up for a good job for his mother and a better future for his family.

In this unique new children’s book, ¡Sí, Se Puede!/ Yes, We Can!, Carlitos’ mother explains that she cannot support him and his grandmother unless she earns more money. She tells Carlitos that she and the other janitors have decided to go on strike. During the course of the story, Carlitos learns of his mother’s strength and courage, and finds a special way that he and his classmates can support the janitors. The book is written in both Spanish and English.

In much the way that the feature film, Bread and Roses, brought the story of the janitors’ strike to mainstream audiences, ¡Sí, Se Puede!/ Yes, We Can! is telling that story to a new generation. Across the country, teachers, community activists and workers will use ¡Sí, Se Puede!/ Yes, We Can! to teach children important lessons about the need for fair pay and how a community can win change by working together adults and children alike.

It is also helping Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest and fastest growing union in the AFL-CIO, reach out to a new audience children with its highly successful, multi-year campaign to win better wages, health insurance and full-time jobs for janitors.

“Sometimes it’s hard for parents to explain to kids why we don’t have time to help them with their homework or don’t have money to buy them new clothes,” said Blanca Perez, a Los Angeles-based janitor who was part of the successful strike in 2000. “This book teaches children that people who work hard aren’t always treated fairly but, if we stick together, we can win.”

“This book celebrates the everyday heroes in our society people who take a stand and fight for what is right,” said SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina. “It teaches children what they can accomplish by working together.”

Featuring vivid and colorful illustrations by Francisco Delgado, ¡Sí, Se Puede!/ Yes, We Can! also includes an essay about Dolores Sanchez, one of the janitors involved in the 2000 Los Angeles janitors strike, and a poem, both by acclaimed author Luis J. Rodríguez.

Through SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaign, thousands of janitors are winning better pay, benefits and working conditions. SEIU represents more than 200,000 building service workers - janitors, security officers and window cleaners.

Cinco Puntos Press is known for its bilingual children’s books, as well as adult fiction, nonfiction and poetry relating to the U.S./Mexico Border and Southwest. It has won several awards, including the American Book Award for publishers.

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NOTE: Media review copies of ¡Sí, Se Puede!/Yes, We Can! are available to reporters, editors, columnists and producers from Gretchen Wright or Mariama Diao at 202/371-1999.

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