Labor Movement

SEIU Minnesota Statement on Minneapolis Earned Sick and Safe Ordinance Introduction

Minneapolis, Minn — This morning the Minneapolis City Council introduced language for an Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance at their Committee of the Whole hearing. Following the hearing, SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Director Brian Elliott, who was a member of the Workplace Partnership Group that provided the recommendation for the ordinance, released the following statement:

“SEIU members have fought for years both through their union and through their elected officials to ensure no one has to choose between the health of their family and the paycheck they need to cover rent, food and other basic needs. I am proud to have worked with business leaders large and small, workers who currently lack sick time and community groups as a member of the Workplace Partnership Group that spent dozens of hours coming to the compromise we resoundingly supported with a 13-1 vote.

“I am glad the Council took our compromise as a basis for this policy, and will continue to advocate for language that makes certain we aren’t leaving any families behind. I am hopeful the Council will get this policy in place as soon as possible and cover every worker in our city so we can finally address the crisis of nearly 42% of workers in Minneapolis not having access to any paid sick time. Passing a strong Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance will be a positive step to address our city’s racial disparities and will make our city stronger for both workers and business.”



SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in public schools, hospitals, higher education, nursing homes, schools, in your homes 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 the approximately 53,000 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 five SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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Mayo Clinic Health System-Albert Lea Hospital Workers Hold Second Informational Picket Outside of Hospital As Contract Negotiations Continue to Stall

Workers and community supporters highlight contract proposals that could harm workers, hospital and the community

Albert Lea, MN – Monday evening, outside of the Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Hospital, dozens of maintenance workers and community supporters held an informational picket to highlight stalled contract negotiations because of proposals made by Mayo that could set back workers, the hospital and the community. The workers, who are members of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, highlighted their concerns on the public sidewalk outside of the hospital as they continue their attempts to reach a fair contract agreement. The picket followed an initial informational picket in November of 2015, and saw strong support from hospital workers who are members of other unions, including Minnesota Nurses Association, AFSCME Council 65, Albert Lea Education Association, Southeast Area Labor Center and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

AlbertLea_Info_Picket_rsWorkers at the picket included Henry Tews, a maintenance engineer who has worked at the hospital for 26 years, who highlighted what changes proposed by the hospital would mean for both workers and the community.

“Like our last picket, we are here today to show that we are willing to fight for what is right for Albert Lea. Having a safe, well-run hospital is important to patients, and having decent jobs in our community is important to everyone in and around Albert Lea. That is why other hospital employees are out here and have been wearing stickers in support of our fight, because we know that our fight is just the first if we don’t stop them from taking us backwards,” said Tews. “We are ready to sit down at the bargaining table and reach an agreement with the hospital so we can continue to provide the service needed to make our hospital great. Unfortunately, Mayo executives won’t budge on their offer.”

The maintenance workers at Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Hospital are the first unit of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members to bargain this round with Mayo, and they have held over 10 negotiation sessions over the last seven months. Many points of agreement have been reached, but workers continued to expressed frustration over proposed language that takes away the voice of longtime workers.

Another maintenance worker at the picket was Gary Wichmann, who has worked at the Albert Lea Hospital for 10 years. 

“We were excited to see such a great crowd today and be joined by Union brothers and sisters from AFSCME, the Minnesota Nurses Association and others. Today showed that the workers               who make the hospital run are standing together for a stronger Albert Lea and Mayo system. It is huge that we are all out here together to show our unity,” said Wichmann. “We’re ready to get a fair contract settled, and we hope Mayo will come to the negotiating table to get that done. This is too important to back down, and we are prepared to continue this fight as long as is needed for what is right.”

Negotiations began in August of 2015. There are currently no new negotiation sessions planned.


SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

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Minnesota Nursing Home Workers Join National “Fight for $15” to Raise Wages and Improve Quality of Care

Dozens rally just days after new report highlights how low pay and poor working conditions are exacerbating “care gap” for Baby Boomer population


Roseville, Minn – Just hours after fast food workers went on strike across the Twin Cities, on the heels of New York and California both passing a $15 minimum wage, Minnesota nursing home workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who are currently bargaining contracts with Golden Living Center (GLC) rallied at the GLC Lakeridge site in Roseville for higher wages and quality care for seniors and people with disabilities. Last week alone, nearly 5,000 Pennsylvania nursing home workers won a path to a $15 hourly wage through their union. Working people in Minnesota are coming together to win a similar victory.

Speaking at the event was longtime GLC Lakeridge employee Tim Sorenson, a CNA and steward with SEIU Healthcare MN, who highlighted how seniors and people with disabilities pay the price when the workers are paid low wages that aren’t enough to support their family.

“We care for your grandfathers, grandmothers, parents, sons, daughters and friends, yet we are paid so little that many people working in nursing homes have to rely on public assistance to survive,” said Sorenson. “The instability caused by poverty wages and low staffing levels means higher turnover and more people getting hurt on the job. We want better care for the people we serve, and that means wages that both bring in and keep good people on the job. That is why we are having this rally today and why we are joining the Fight for $15 as part of our current contract negotiations!”

As the national movement of fast food, child care, home care and airport workers grows, nursing home workers, among the most underpaid working women and men in the country,  are joining to stand up to the corporate greed that is keeping wages low and failing our communities. SEIU nursing home members are taking action today in more than 40 cities in 16 states, calling for fair wages and quality care for seniors and people with disabilities who depend upon nursing home care.  There are strikes in a number of states, including in Florida where 2,000 nursing home workers will go on a 24-hour strike at 19 Consulate Healthcare facilities, the largest healthcare strike in the Southeast in more than a decade.

The events come just days after a new report highlighted the crisis facing care work. Key findings from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) report, Raise the Floor: Quality Nursing Home Care Depends on Quality Jobs, released Tuesday include:

  • In Minnesota, CNAs earn a median hourly wage of $12.22, taking home so little that as many as 33% rely on public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid.
  • As a result of low pay, insufficient staffing levels, high injury rates, and limited on-the-job support, nursing home employers can neither recruit nor retain qualified nursing assistants.
  • The average turnover rates for nursing assistants exceeded 50 percent in 2012 and are expected to climb as there are more opportunities for higher-paying jobs with better working conditions.
  • The cumulative growth in the number of women and men over the age of 85 will exceed that of the working-age population by more than 10 times over the next 45 years, creating a “care gap” crisis.
  • Nationally:
    • 91 percent of nursing assistants are women; 53 percent are people of color.
    • Nursing assistants earn median hourly wage of $11.51 and annual earnings of $19,000. Real wages for CNAs have decreased by 7 percent in the last decade.
    • 1 in 3 CNAs relies on taxpayer-funded public benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid.

According to PHI, nursing assistants and workers providing laundry, food and housekeeping services are undervalued and underpaid, often viewed “as a cost to be managed rather than an asset to invest.” Keeping the wage floor low leads to half of nursing home workers leaving their positions each year and adds to the gap in available trained long term care providers.

Today, more than 1.3 million older Americans and people with disabilities reside in nursing homes and the rapidly aging population will create an explosive demand for long term care services. Ten thousand women and men turn 65 every day, and the numbe r of older Americans in greatest need of 24-hour care in a nursing home setting—women and men over the age of 85—is poised to nearly triple by 2050.


SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

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Twin Cities Janitors Win Tentative Agreement on New Contract

After months of fighting, contract wins $15 for thousands of janitors, the largest wage increases in decades, concrete steps to address workload crisis, healthcare improvements and more

Minneapolis, Minn – In their 18th negotiation session, after 12 hours of bargaining that started Sunday afternoon and ended after 1 a.m. Monday morning, janitors and their employers reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract. With the tentative agreement, which will be brought to the membership this weekend for approval, janitors won big gains following their 24-hour ULP strike, civil disobedience and countless rallies and marches with supporters. Full background on the contract campaign at bottom. 

Janitor_Contact_rsBrahim Kone, a janitor from St. Paul and leader on the bargaining team, highlighted why janitors were so excited with the agreement and why they are advocating for members to vote yes on the contract.

“This was a hard fight, but we were fighting for a better life for our families and a step forward on rolling back racial disparities in our state, and the bargaining team is so proud of the final result that we are bringing back to the full membership” said Kone, a father of three. “Alongside many other important wins, we won the largest raise in decades for Twin Cities janitors, moving full time workers like myself over $15 immediately, and for the first time we won steps forward on addressing our workload crisis. This is a big win for our union, and a big win for our community. Janitors stood together through many months to win what is right, and we are so excited for this victory.”

Lucia Guaman, a janitor who works for Harvard cleaning RBC Plaza in Minneapolis, highlighted why the groundbreaking wins on workload are so important to janitors with SEIU.

“Winning new policies about workload, including walkthroughs with union stewards and a plan to do a worker-centered third-party study about the real challenges facing janitors so we can end this workload crisis once and for all, are huge wins for janitors and our families,” said Guaman. “My supervisor once told me, when I brought up our increasing workload, to ‘vacuum with one hand, mop with the other and dust with your mouth.’ No one deserves this treatment, but people were intimidated to discuss workload or even report when they get injured. Now we have an avenue to fix this crisis, and we hope this means we no longer will hear stories about janitors too hurt and sore from work to play with their children. We have been fighting to live, not just survive, and this is a huge step towards that goal.”

Members of the union will vote on the full proposal this weekend.

Main contract wins include:

1.  Largest Janitorial Wage Increases in Over 20 years

  • Over 60% of all janitors will immediately get raises to over $15/hour
  • All full time janitors will receive raises of $.50, $.50, $.40, $.40
  • Full timers will reach $16.42 by the end of the 4 year contract, a 12.3% increase from current wages
  • Part timers will receive the same 12.3% increase

2.  Historic New Workload Protections 

  • Worker-centered enforcement through worksite reviews and walkthroughs of janitor’s workloads
  • A groundbreaking professional study through the University of Minnesota on the workload problems in our worksites, developed through an industry wide committee

3.  Expanded Part Time Benefits

  • For the first time part-time janitors will receive full healthcare benefits and will have paid sick days

4.  Improved Benefits for Full time Janitors 

  • Healthcare benefits improved, low premiums protected and disability pay increased

5.  Better Job Security

  • Prevented boss proposal to cut full time positions in the market
  • Janitors won a “just cause” clause for the first time, which means they cannot fire janitors without reason

6.  Other Wins 

  • Company must make “good faith effort to accommodate” workers who want to take New Years Eve or Eid off from work on paid time
  • Protections of benefits when buildings switch contractors
  • A better process for accessing earned vacation time

Background on contract negotiations for janitors: On February 17th the janitors with SEIU Local 26 walked off the job on a 24-hour ULP strike, and on February 25th 11 janitors and allies took arrest in peaceful civil disobedience at U.S. Bank Headquarters. The sub-contractors who employ the janitors to clean some of the most prominent and wealthy buildings in the state held 18 negotiation sessions with janitors starting in October of 2015, including multiple marathon sessions that lasted over 10 hours. The janitors in SEIU Local 26 are over 90% people of color, so fair pay and benefits have an immediate impact on the communities most impacted by our state’s racial and economic disparities, some of the worst in the country.



                                    SEIU Local 26 is Minnesota’s Property Services Union, uniting more than 6,000 janitors, security officers, and window cleaners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. SEIU unites more than 375,000 property services workers nationally, and over 2 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.

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Union Leaders and People of Color Union Members Highlight Support for Janitors Contract Fight

As bargaining continues, labor movement shows solidarity with janitors days ahead of new strike deadline

Minneapolis, Minn – Union leaders from the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MLRF), including The People of Color Union Member (POCUM) Caucus, spoke out today to highlight their support for the janitors of SEIU Local 26. The janitors have announced a new strike deadline for Monday, March 7th, after which they could call a strike if there continues to be no progress in negotiations. These events come just weeks after POCUM and the MRLF convened the AFL-CIO’s National Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to Minneapolis, for a two-day event focused on increasing racial equity in the labor movement and labor’s involvement in racial justice issues. At the press conference, which also included representatives from the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFSCME, the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters and many other unions, the speakers brought up the racial disparities faced by janitors and other workers in the Minneapolis economy.

Cathy Jones, a leader of POCUM and a union letter carrier, spoke at the event and shared why this fight is so important in the fight to start addressing and rolling back racial disparities in our state.

“We completely stand in solidarity with our brother and sister janitors at SEIU Local 26. This campaign is about living wages and racial equity. Workers of color are demanding better in this city and this is something we should all stand behind,” said Jones. “By not having a fair contract, janitors could announce a strike if they don’t get a fair offer by Monday. We hope it doesn’t have to go there, but we stand with them if they do.”

Another POCUM leader, Silvia Gonzalez a union electrician, connected the recent Racial and Economic Justice forum in Minnesota to the current fight by SEIU Local 26 janitors, 90% of whom are people of color.

“We are on the heels of the national AFL-CIO Commission on Racial and Economic Justice held just last month. We (POCUM) are leading an effort for equity in the workplace and stand in solidarity with the SEIU 26 janitors who are demanding a fair contract and putting their livelihoods on the line to fight for better working conditions,” said Gonzalez.

Joining POCUM leaders were labor members and leaders from Minneapolis and St. Paul, including the President of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, who shared the broad support the janitors have from the Twin Cities labor movement.

“The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, the labor movement and the entire workers movement stand with our janitors. The workers who clean our offices and workplaces are often invisible to our day to day lives– but, they are not invisible in our movement,” sad Glaubitz. “In February we unanimously enacted strike sanctions for the 1-day strike on behalf of our union janitors and our non-union retail janitors. We will support our janitors and all workers who are fighting for dignity and family-sustaining wages—even with the possibility of an open-ended strike looming in the near future.”


Photo Courtesy of Union Advocate

Also speaking at the event was janitor and leader of the bargaining team Brahim Kone, who shared updates on bargaining and thanked POCUM and the labor movement for the support as the union continues the fight for a fair contract that supports families and begins to roll back our state’s harmful racial and economic inequalities.

Background on contract negotiations for janitors: On February 17th the janitors with SEIU Local 26 walked off the job on a 24-hour ULP strike, and on February 25th 11 janitors and allies took arrest in peaceful civil disobedience at U.S. Bank Headquarters as they’ve continued their calls for a fair wages, a solution to a growing workload crisis (many janitors clean the equivalent of over 20 homes per night) and benefits that support healthy families. The sub-contractors who employ the janitors to clean some of the most prominent and wealthy buildings in the state have so far refused to offer anything near a fair deal in the 13 bargaining sessions they have held since October of 2015, including a marathon 23-hour session Friday to Saturday Feb. 26-27. The janitors in SEIU Local 26 are over 90% people of color, so fair pay and benefits would have an immediate impact on the communities most impacted by our state’s racial and economic disparities, some of the worst in the country. After months of negotiating, janitors set a new strike deadline for March 7th if no contract is reached.


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Minnesota Epilepsy Group Healthcare Workers Approve New Contract That Establishes $15 Minimum Wage

The healthcare workers have ratified a new three-year deal with a landmark increase to $15 an hour minimum wage

St. Paul, Minn – SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at the Minnesota Epilepsy Group (MEG), a comprehensive adult and pediatric epilepsy program which has cared for over 15,000 people in the last three years alone, ratified a new 3-year contract that, among other big gains, establishes a $15 per hour minimum wage for the first time for all SEIU members at the St. Paul-based specialty healthcare provider. The $15 wage is a huge step and comes as the national Fight for $15 movement is growing across the country. 

Glenn Livezey is an EEG Tech at MEG and a union steward for SEIU Healthcare MN. He spoke about why the bargaining team pressed for reaching the goal of $15 by the end of the contract for every worker.

“At a time when more and more jobs are low-wage jobs that cannot even begin to support a family, it is clear that $15 is a level that all workplaces should be striving for as a bottom line. Setting a floor at $15 is good for staff and good for the people we care for because it will mean less turnover and more stability for those who come to our clinic for care,” said Livezey. “We are proud that our members stood together to reach this goal, and believe it will strengthen the work we do at MEG. When people start at a fair wage, and go up accordingly, they can stay on the job and learn to use their skills and experience to provide the best care possible to everyone who walks through our doors. We hope this win can help spread the message that fair wages and benefits are possible if people stick together and fight for what is right.”

Management at MEG also praised the deal as a way ensure that great staff are recruited and retained at MEG.

“We are truly very happy with the course and outcome of our negotiations,” said Steve Cohen, CEO of the Minnesota Epilepsy Group. “MEG’s management team felt a real spirit of collaboration with the bargaining unit negotiators, especially with regard to a shared desire to see a $15 minimum. We are in complete agreement that respected, fairly compensated staff members will provide the best service for the people we care for.”

Ward 2 St. Paul City Council Member Rebecca Noecker, in whose Ward MEG’s primary location is based, praised the workers and managements coming together to hit a $15 minimum wage for MEG workers.

“I am glad to see labor and the private sector working together to achieve their shared goals in Ward 2. When employers ensure that their employees earn enough to live in and enjoy our city, all of us benefit.  MEG should be commended for making such a bold move toward equity in our community.”

The contract represents approximately 50 EEG technicians who serve in MEG’s two clinics as well as in the four area hospitals in which MEG operates. The members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota ratified the contract late on Friday, February 26th with 97% of the votes approving the contract. It is a three year contract that will be effective as of January 1, 2016.



SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

Minnesota Epilepsy Group is a Level 4 epilepsy center, the highest level awarded by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.  As a Level 4 center MEG provides a level of care that leads to better outcomes for patients, better lifetime management, and better services for all those affected by epilepsy.

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Twin Cities Janitors To Strike Wednesday as Deadline Passes


reclaimEVENTbanner_rsMinneapolis, Minn – After months of bargaining, and in response to stalling and delays from employers, janitors with SEIU Local 26 have announced they will walk off the job on an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike on Wednesday. Specifics about locations and times of picket lines will be announced to the press starting Wednesday morning, with a community rally from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm at U.S. Bank Plaza in Minneapolis that evening. The strike will hit some of the largest and most prominent buildings throughout the metro over the course of the day. It will be the first strike by sub-contracted union janitors in the Twin Cities in decades.

“At a time of increasing wealth for a small few, we are fighting for a fair contract that will not only help our families, but start to roll back the racial and economic inequalities facing our state,” said Brahim Kone, a St. Paul janitor and leader on the bargaining team who will be going on strike. “We are contracted to clean the buildings of some of the most wealthy corporations in the world, yet our calls for a fair contract are being ignored. We want $15 for all workers, a solution to our workload crisis that sees many janitors clean the equivalent of over 20 homes every single night, and policies that allow us to have healthy families. We are fighting for our own families, but we also want our fight to show others that you don’t have to accept the status quo. Our state and economy are not working for everyone, and the people who benefit from the economic and racial disparities they created clearly won’t give up without a fight. With employers dismissing all of our proposals, we see no choice but to go on strike to win what is right. Our campaign has been about the call to ‘Reclaim Your Dreams,’ and we hope the public will stand with us Wednesday as we go on strike as part of that fight.”

Background: On January 23rd, janitors with SEIU Local 26, 90% of whom are people of color, voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a unfair labor practice strike as their employers continue to stall and intimidate workers in bargaining over a new contract for the 4,000 janitors in the Twin Cities. Workers have been fighting for a $15 floor for all workers, a fix to a growing workload crisis and policies that support healthy families. In response they have only seen stalling from employers. The bargaining committee announced a Feb. 14th deadline to reach a fair contract that allows for healthy families and strengthens our community by fighting to address income and racial disparities plaguing our state. That deadline came and went without any real progress towards a deal. Janitors have held 11 negotiating sessions since October with their employers. They have no more bargaining sessions scheduled this week. Their current three-year contract expired on Dec. 31st.


SEIU Local 26 is Minnesota’s Property Services Union, uniting more than 6,000 janitors, security officers, and window cleaners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. SEIU unites more than 375,000 property services workers nationally, and over 2 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.

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Hamline University Adjuncts Vote Overwhelmingly To Ratify First Union Contract

The contract, reached in December, will help promote stability through substantial wage increases and new professional development fund

St. Paul, MN – Adjunct faculty at Hamline University voted to ratify their historic first contract with the University on Friday evening after a full day of voting. The contract, reached in December, was called a win for faculty, students and whole university. After 10 years without a raise, adjuncts voted to form their Union with SEIU Local 284 in June of 2014, and negotiated their first contract for over a year. The contract was ratified with over 95% of ballots voting “yes,” and the new contract will go into effect for the spring semester.

Mark Felton, a Hamline adjunct in the business school and member of the bargaining team, praised the vote and expressed excitement about the first contract going into effect.

“Like my fellow faculty, I joined this fight for a first contract because I truly love teaching and want what is best for students, faculty and the larger Hamline community,” said Felton, who has taught at various higher education institutions in Minnesota for over 10 years. “We hope that our contract ratification, and the reality that our gains are locked in with a union contract so that they can’t be taken away later, will help to inspire others to stand up and fight to strengthen higher education across Minnesota. Increasing wages after all these years, establishing a professional development fund and crafting a system where adjuncts have advance notice of when they will teach courses will all help to create an environment where we have the capacity to do what we love to do, which is spend time with and teach our students. We know that we couldn’t have made these amazing gains without the support of students and the community who also want to make Hamline as great as possible. We are proud that we came together and made this contract a reality.”

David Weiss, Steward of the Union and Adjunct Instructor in Religion, shared how this contract will move Hamline forward.

“Having taught as an adjunct faculty member at Hamline since 2004, I am especially pleased to see this contract ratified. Hamline’s commitment to teaching excellence is now backed up by a commitment to more timely notice of teaching appointments as well as professional development support for adjunct faculty. Similarly, the University’s value of social justice is now echoed in placing renewed value on the work of its adjunct faculty,” said Weiss. “This isn’t just a ‘win’ for those of us who are adjuncts. It’s a win for the students in our classrooms and for our fulltime faculty colleagues. Bargaining a first contract is never easy, but thanks to long hours and hard work by both bargaining teams, this contract strengthens the fabric of Hamline University as whole. Although President Miller wasn’t directly involved in negotiations, this is a significant and positive accomplishment so early in her tenure at Hamline.”

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

  • All adjunct faculty will receive a raise. A majority will receive a 15% increase in Year 1 and base pay will increase by 20% by the 17-18 fiscal year.
    • Additional compensation for terminal degree and length of service will increase base pay in Year 1 by 25% and by 30% in fiscal year 17-18 .
  • A professional development fund will be established.
  • Adjunct Faculty will have much earlier notice of courses they will teach, and will be compensated for work if there is a last minute cancellation. Additionally, they will have the first right to teach a course they design or be compensated for the design.
  • Establishment of a Union/University Collaboration Committee (otherwise known as a Labor Management Committee)

The contract ratification comes just weeks after tenure-line and contingent faculty at the University of Minnesota filed for a union election with the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services. With approximately 2,500 instructional faculty at the Twin Cities campus, this will be one of the largest single-campus faculty unions in the country.


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Janitors Announce That if No Deal is Reached at Friday Bargaining Session, They Will Go on Strike Next Week

While keeping the exact date open, janitors pledge to walk off the job cleaning some of the most prominent and wealthy buildings in the Twin Cities

Minneapolis, Minn— Twin Cities janitors with SEIU Local 26 held a press conference today outside of the U.S. Bank Tower in Downtown Minneapolis to announced their next steps as we come close to the February 14th strike deadline set by the union bargaining committee to reach a fair contract or walk off the job on an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike. Negotiations between the 4,000 janitors represented by the union and the sub-contractors who employee them to clean some of the most prominent buildings in the Twin Cities have seen management stall, delay and intimidate workers, which led to the January 23rd vote where members unanimously voted to authorize a strike if a fair contract is not reached.

SEIU Janitors_rsBrahim Kone, a St. Paul janitor who is a member of Local 26 and a leader on the bargaining team, shared that there is one more bargaining session before the strike deadline, and if an agreement isn’t reached, there will be a strike on a still undisclosed date next week.

“If no contract is reached at tomorrow’s negotiating session, then our Feb 14th deadline will pass without a new contract. If that happens, one day next week — a day we won’t announce until is happens —  we will call a strike in the morning and have workers walk off the job across the Metro in some of the most prominent buildings and corporations,” said Kone. “Janitors are working more and more, yet too many families are falling behind and our state continues to be one of the most segregated, unequal places in the country for people of color. We are fighting to win a fair contract for families in Local 26, over 90% of whom are people of color, but also to change the conversation in our state and begin to roll back the harmful racial and economic disparities that have grown over the last three decades. We have said throughout this fight we are leading the way so all Minnesotans can “Reclaim Your Dreams,” and we believe we can a fair contract and a better state for all of us. If needed, we are willing to stand up,  fight back and go on strike to make that a reality.”

Samuel Castenada, a janitor for ABM, spoke about the workload crisis facing workers, which was the subject of a recent report about the changes, and dangers, of the janitorial industry. (Read the report, titled Back Breaking Profits, HERE)

“Many of us now have to finish cleaning jobs that used to take more than 12 hours in an 8 hour shift because of new pressures from our employers. Many janitors like myself clean the equivalent of over 20 homes in a night. Imagine cleaning 20 houses every day! I recently had an operation on my shoulder, and many of my co-workers are getting sick or injured as well,” said Castenada. “That is why we are coming together and fighting back. We are ready to go on strike next week if a fair contract is not reached.” 

Juana Arriaga, a janitor employed by ABM, shared how a $15 floor being proposed by janitors would help families like hers and bring positive change as our state is facing harrowing racial and economic disparities.

“I work incredibly hard, yet I only make $12.15 per hour, and other janitors make as little as $11 per hour. At a time when some are getting richer and richer, those of us who are contracted to clean the buildings of some of the wealthiest corporations in the state shouldn’t have to struggle to get by. We have found out that winning $15 for all janitors would lead to tens of millions of dollars each year being pumped into communities across the Twin Cities. The fact that over 90% of janitors in our union people of color means fair raises for janitors would be going back into areas that have been left behind by our economy for far too long and help boost our economy for all of us,” said Arriaga. “I have to work two jobs because of my pay. If we get a fair contract, families of janitors in Local 26 will see a better life, but it also can be a first steps towards really making our state a more equal and fair place.”

In negotiations, workers have been fighting for a $15 floor for all workers, a fix to a growing workload crisis and policies that support healthy families. In response they have only seen stalling from employers. Janitors have been negotiating since October with their employers. Their current three-year contract expired on Dec. 31st.

Minneapolis Regional Labor Fedoration President Chelsie Glaubitz and Teamsters Joint Council 32 Presdient Larry Yowsa joined janitors and shared how Twin Cities Unions will support, and in the cases where their contracts allow, sanction strikes if the janitors walk off the job, meaning that they would not cross any picket lines of buildings where janitors are striking. Also at the press conference were non-union janitors with CTUL, a local worker center. Retail janitors with CTUL work for contracted companies cleaning stores like Macy’s, Lunds & Byerly’s, Kohl’s, Sears, and are calling on cleaning companies to open sincere dialogue regarding fair wages and ending wage theft in the industry, and are prepared to walk out on strike on February 18th, 2016.


SEIU Local 26 is Minnesota’s Property Services Union, uniting more than 6,000 janitors, security officers, and window cleaners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. SEIU unites more than 375 property services workers nationally, and over 2 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.

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Twin Cities Security Officers with SEIU Reach Tentative Agreement on Landmark New Contract, Win $15 for All Officers

The contract, covering 2,000 security officers, will see some Twin Cities workers receiving a 50% raise over the four year contract


Minneapolis, Minn— Twin Cities security officers with SEIU Local 26 reached a tentative agreement for a ground-breaking new contract late Wednesday night. All current officers will achieve a minimum of $15 an hour wage and all future officers will be on a path to do the same. The contract also won more sick days, an improvement in healthcare cost for families and for the first time ever combines the Suburban and Downtown contracts to create more equity. The agreement would give substantial raises over the course of the contract for all of the over 2,000 security officers who protect buildings around the Twin Cities that house some of the most prominent and wealthy corporations in the country. Members will vote to ratify the contract in the next few weeks. The agreement comes as the janitors with SEIU Local 26 have voted to authorize a strike if a fair contract is not reached for the 4,000 janitors represented by the union.

20151010_James_Matias_rsJames Matias, a security officer and SEIU Local 26 Executive Board member from St. Paul who was on the bargaining committee, saw firsthand how officers in the union stood together to win this pioneering contract.

“Security officers in the Twin Cities fought hard for this contract, and are proud that we have won such an impressive victory for thousands of working families. Some security officers are currently at $10 an hour, so a jump to $15 by the end of the contract will result in a 50% pay increase, which will be a huge change,” said Matias, who lives in St. Paul with his wife and kids. “We fought to make sure that all workers in our union are given the chance to have the pay and benefits that ensure we can support our families. We won gains for all members, but we remained unified that everyone should have the basic dignity of fair pay for their hard work. In an area as wealthy as the Twin Cities, as we protect some of the most affluent businesses in the world, all working people should be able to provide for their families. This contract is a huge step in the right direction and we are now ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with janitors and other workers in their fight.”

The agreement comes just over a week from the strike deadline set by Twin Cities janitors who are also represented by SEIU Local 26. Unlike security officers, employers on the janitorial side have stalled, delayed and intimidated workers fighting for a fair agreement, which lead to the January 23rd unfair labor practice (ULP) strike authorization vote. The janitorial bargaining committee set a Feb 14th strike deadline for a fair contract. If there is not a fair contract by that date, the committee could call an ULP strike at any point.


SEIU Local 26 is Minnesota’s Property Services Union, uniting more than 6,000 janitors, security officers, and window cleaners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. SEIU unites more than 225,000 property services workers nationally, and over 2 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.

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