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Alejandra Valles

Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU United Service Workers West (USWW)

Meeting of October 31, 2018 - Revamping Workplace Culture to Prevent Harassment

Alejandra Valles is the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU United Service Workers West, representing 45,000 janitors, security officers, airport employees, and other property service workers throughout California.

Alejandra's fight for social justice began growing up in El Paso watching her father, a construction worker, and her mother, a garment worker, work long hours under difficult conditions. Their struggles inspired Alejandra to dedicate herself to improving the lives of working families.

Before the #MeToo movement changed the conversation about sexual harassment, Alejandra was one of the architects of the inspiring "YA BASTA" campaign that allowed immigrant women janitors to come forward and speak out publicly about the rape and sexual harassment that they experienced in the workplace. Her vision helped pass AB1978, which requires that all janitors and their supervisors take training in recognizing and preventing sexual violence, and requires that all janitorial contractors register with the State to help bring the janitorial industry out of the underground economy.

Alejandra is now working with legislators to ensure that the training that is required by AB1978 is an effective way to prevent rape and sexual assault on the night shift. She believe that this epidemic in the janitorial industry requires new thinking, and that peer-to-peer counseling can be an effective teaching tool, as the worker can more closely relate with their peer counselor than an outside agency. Alejandra and many of the members of USWW have already taken peer-counseling training, and her experience working with janitors who are survivors of sexual assault has convinced her that peer counseling is the best approach.