Recently Unionized Twin Cities Big Box Retail Janitors Win First Contract, Show Path Forward for Working Families in Time of Trump

The nearly 500 janitors who are sub-contracted to clean stores like Best Buy, Macys, Target and others announce historic first contract that will bring an increase of $4.5 million in wages and PTO for working families in Minnesota

Group won historic union by joining SEIU Local 26 earlier this year after multi-year fight

Minneapolis, MN – Big Box retail janitors who are sub-contracted to clean Best Buy, Macys, Lunds, Target and other stores in the Twin Cities Metro announced that they finalized a first contract with their employers as members of SEIU Local 26. The group won their groundbreaking union earlier this year after a multi-year fight that saw them go on multiple 24-hour strikes and organize the first industry-wide union of big box janitors in a major metropolitan area.

The gains in the contract via wage increases and Paid Time Off include over $4.5 million over the life of the contract for the nearly 500 workers covered by bargaining. Retail janitors will see an average increase of 18% over 3 years, with many janitors seeing an immediate $1.50 raise. The vast majority of the group are people of color, with gains from the contract helping to fight back against Minnesota’s painful racial and economic gaps.

Retail_janitor_victory_rsThe gains won in this contract are the private sector stimulus that Trump and his billionaire cabinet promised, but workers delivered on for themselves. Janitors like Maricela Flores, a mother and grandmother who works for Carlson Building Maintenance at the Shakopee Target who has been part of the bargaining sessions, shared what it meant to win this first contract and to see gains during in this current climate.

“We fought hard to get to this point, so it means so much to have won this first contract. While working people are under attack right now from the billionaires in charge of our country, we are showing that we can win if we stick together and fight. Over the years we marched, picketed, organized our workplaces and went on strike multiple times, each time growing stronger despite facing long odds,” said Flores. “Especially now, it is so important to remember something we’ve said throughout our campaign: ‘When We Fight, We Win.’ Because we stood up and fought, and didn’t let anyone tell us we couldn’t win, we now have a contract that won big gains for our families.”

Lizbet Vega Lopez, who has been employed by Carlson to clean the Cub Foods in Brooklyn Park for 12 years, talked about what these gains will mean for her family during the age of Trump. Vega Lopez is one of the many workers seeing an immediate raise from $9.50 to $11 per hour.

“This was not an easy fight, but I am so glad we stuck together and now have a union contract that moves us forward. I hope others will see our fight and realize that no matter how difficult the challenge may be, you can win positive changes if you are willing to stand up to those in power,” said Lopez, a mother of 3. “We are contracted to clean the stores of some of the biggest corporations in the world, so it was a big win just to get to the negotiation table with our employers, and now we have won gains that cannot be taken away. We weren’t waiting on Trump’s empty promises and scapegoating. We decided to fight back and win changes for ourselves, and hope others do too!”

In addition to wage increases and PTO, workers also won: one to three weeks vacation, depending on experience, stronger workplace protections and job security, and guidelines for workload conditions when covering absences. The contract goes into effect immediately and will last three years.

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Around the country, airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of workers and their allies, raising their voices to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities. Contracted airport workers from major airports serve 393 million passengers yearly. By sticking together and speaking out for change these workers have won wage increases in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, and Fort Lauderdale. Today, more than 85,000 airport workers nationwide have either received wages increases or other improvements, including health care, paid sick leave and worker retention policies.

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