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Women Arrested at Capitol Rally for Janitor Rights

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SACRAMENTO -- A handful of women demonstrating on behalf of over-night janitors and cleaning staff were arrested by police for blocking traffic at L and 11th streets in Sacramento Tuesday.

"We do think that these sorts of actions elevate a cause in a way that creates dialog. Healthy dialog," said Sandra Diaz, political director for the Service Employees International Union and organizer of the action.

The cause she's talking about is the cause of third-shift workers, night janitors and cleaning crews, who are often immigrants and, according to the union, too often subject to sexual assault while on the job.

"The numbers are really hard because you are dealing with an underground economy," Diaz said.

Diaz says she doesn't know how often women working these overnight shifts are sexually assaulted because typically they don't report it, for fear of losing their jobs or running into trouble over immigration status.

Tuesday's demonstration, is in part, a move to unionize those workers and offer them broader protections.

"So we're asking at the state level, and every level, how do we create protections for these workers who may be afraid for status and any other reason to come forward and say 'I'm being sexually assaulted.... I'm being raped while I'm working'?" Diaz said.