Victory Could Be First of “Unlock Our Future” Week of Actions to Strengthen Minnesota’s Middle Class; Talks Break Down for Security Officers
Minneapolis, MN – In a breakthrough that will improve the lives of more than 4,000 Twin Cities janitors, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26 and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association reached a tentative agreement for a three-year contract that will provide significant gains for workers around hours, wages, healthcare, workload and job security. The deal came just after 4:00 p.m. Saturday after more than 31 consecutive hours of bargaining. Janitors still need to ratify the contract.
The agreement came after a campaign that galvanized support from a vast array of community organizations, faith and labor leaders, members of the business community, and elected officials – including members of the Minneapolis and St. Paul City Councils, dozens of state legislators, Mayor R.T. Rybak and Congressman Keith Ellison.
“We went into these negotiations with a goal of more hours, better pay and employer-paid healthcare for more of our workers. I am proud to say the tentative agreement we are taking back to our members has achieved those goals,” said SEIU Local 26 bargaining committee member Marco Antonio Salazar, a janitor who lives in Brooklyn Center. “I was moved by the support we received from the community—from faith leaders to elected officials. We won this agreement by standing united and fighting for what is just.”
The tentative agreement includes hard-fought gains in many areas, most significantly:
- Full-time work: Janitors saved thousands of full-time jobs that would have been converted to part-time, resulting in lower wages and loss of health care and other benefits. Instead, they secured stable, full-time positions.
- Wages: Janitors agreed to wage increases of $1.20 over three years. The wage increases help bring janitors out of poverty and pump an additional $30 million a year into the local economy, as workers reinvest in their own communities.
- Healthcare: Janitors secured better employer-based health care coverage, which will allow thousands to access affordable coverage, rather than being forced to rely on public programs paid for by taxpayers.
- Sick days: Janitors won one additional day of sick time, allowing them to stay at home when ill.
- Workload: Janitors who often clean the equivalent of as many as 30 homes in a night will now have a process to discuss their workload and resolution process.
The victory comes on the eve of an “Unlock Our Future” week of action being coordinated by members of Minnesota community, student, environmental, and labor groups designed to strengthen Minnesota’s middle class – the engine of our economy.
On Tuesday these groups – including ISAIAH, TakeAction Minnesota, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en La Lucha, a Minneapolis workers’ center), SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, and SEIU Local 284 – sent a joint letter to the heads of U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Target urging the corporations to do their part to resolve the crises impacting Minnesota’s middle class by Sunday, February 24, at noon.
Barring substantial action on improving housing, state revenue, banking practices, schools and jobs by the noon deadline, members of all of these organizations are vowing direct, dramatic, citizen action beginning Monday.
The janitors’ new contract – which will reward hard work and provide a stepping stone into the middle class – may prove to be the first concrete victory of the week. Meanwhile, talks broke down Friday afternoon for 2,000 security officers with SEIU Local 26 after employers walked away from the table. Security officers will go on strike as early as Monday in their effort to create and expand even more jobs for the community.
SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, child care, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.