Swept Under the Red Carpet

January 24, 2020

America’s Largest Theater Chains Caught Exploiting Janitors

Whether it’s your love of The Lego Movie, your desire to catch the new Star Wars, or just for the yummy smell of fresh popcorn, we love the act of going to the movies. But when the lights go down, and the audience shuffles out of the darkness and back to the reality of their daily lives, those who clean up after us, are given a wholly different experience with the silver screen. And it’s not as glamorous as the Hollywood stars we go there to see.

In a very recent expose by Variety, we’ve had a light cast on some of the biggest problems in the janitorial industry today. By examining how giant corporate chains like AMC Theaters can get away with forcing janitors to clean for next to nothing. Along the way, Variety overturned overwhelming exploitation in this area of the janitorial industry, and illuminate a complete lack of accountability by these well-known movie theater chains.

How would you feel if someone told you that your local movie theater was getting away with paying their janitors $5 an hour in 2020? Or worse, not at all? Would you consider staying in and watching Netflix instead of a night out at the movies? Or perhaps start reading more great books!

Check out this interview with several theater janitors:


 AMC theater cleaner from Santa Monica, Maria Alvarez had this to say during one of her first labor hearings for getting fired and all her pay withheld:

“The day my son passed away, I asked for the day, and they did not want to give it to me”.

Alvarez cleaned theaters for two and a half years. She was paid $300 a week — or about $5 an hour.

Variety spent the better part of 2 years investigating the corrupt world of contracting, subcontracting, and accountability with America’s 3 largest theater chains. And the results of the investigation will make you think twice about supporting your local AMC, Regal Entertainment or Cinemark. The tip of the iceberg being over 2.4 million in unpaid wages, and even when ordered by state courts, not one of these company’s paid. Simply passing accountability down the chain to their contractors. One underhanded employer even went so far as to declare bankruptcy to avoid paying his cleaners.

But there is a silver lining to this dark cloud, and that is that with every article posted, every expose published, and documentary filmed, we see that people care enough to spread awareness, and that awareness can help stop this from continuing.

As of this post, AMC Theaters has already taken action and started contracting its own cleaners, which gives them direct accountability. A huge win for cleaners like Maria (pictured above), and everyone who’s been in her position.

So feel free to talk about this, share it or like it on social media, and support the janitors of North America from being taken advantage of by multimillion-dollar-a-year businesses who can afford to pay them fairly, but simply choose not to.

Check out the original article in its entirety at Variety!

Swept is dedicated to highlighting stories that touch everyone in the janitorial industry.

Our hearts go well beyond the janitorial software we offer. Want to learn how a janitor had Keanu buy a store for him? 

Curious how a Janitor became a VP at Pepsicorp? Learn more about Swept’s cleaning company software here. And to keep up on all the trends in the janitorial services industry, subscribe to our blog!

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