Use the Cisco restroom at your own risk

Things may look a little grubbier around Cisco's San Jose headquarters. That's because 100 janitors and supporters were camped out in front of the Tasman Drive complex this week to protest the firing of 75 of their comrades.

The janitors cannot pay their rent for the month of May, according to a press release from their union, and are instead camping in front of Cisco until the company orders its contractor, American Building Management, to reinstate them.

In contrast to the massive layoffs of maintenance staff, Cisco CEO John Chambers has publicly boasted about the company's excellent fiscal health and "aggressive" expansion amidst the economic crisis. Cisco currently has $34 billion in cash on hand -- more than any other technology company, according to the New York Times -- and has acquired about 35 smaller companies in the past four years. Chambers received more than $11 million in compensation in 2008.

The janitors even established a Web site that plays off the Cisco "Human Network" advertising theme. The site provides information on the janitor's encampment and "struggle for justice at Cisco."

Cisco's response was published by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal:

"Cisco respects and supports the rights of our vendors' employees to fair treatment and their right to voice their concerns," the company said. "Cisco does not direct the employment practices of the thousands of vendors, partners and contractors with whom it works, including the janitorial services company."

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