Press Releases

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 at strategic locations across in some of the most prominent buildings and corporations in the Metro,” 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.

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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

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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.

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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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Janitors with SEIU Vote To Authorize Strike as Employers Continue to Stall in Contract Negotiations with 4,000 Twin Cities Janitors

Joined by community supporters, including Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, janitors continue to lead fight to ‘Reclaim Your Dreams’ and win contract that helps improve racial and economic disparities20160123_122945

Minneapolis, MN — Janitors with SEIU Local 26 voted today 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. If a contract agreement is not reached by Feb. 14th, the committee could call a strike at any point going forward.


Adriana Espinosa, a Local 26 member and janitor employed by ABM to clean the Arts Institute
, highlighted why she voted “yes” to authorizing an unfair labor practice strike and 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 voted to authorize an unfair labor practice strike because I am part time, and make $13.16 per hour, and many of my co-workers make as little as $11 per hour. We work incredibly hard, and a $15 minimum wage would mean more stability for my family and would allow us to live, not just survive. We found that raising wages to $15 for all janitors would lead to tens of millions of dollars each year being pumped into communities across the Twin Cities. Janitors with Local 26 are overwhelmingly people of color, which 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 Espinosa. “When families have fair pay and decent benefits, it helps to improve our whole community. Winning a fair contract will help the families of Local 26 members, but can also help gain momentum as we fight to close the racial and economic disparities in our state.”

Another issue that has been brought to the bargaining table by janitors, and ignored or dismissed by employers, was the growing workload facing janitors. Many janitors in the Twin Cities clean the equivalent of more than 20 homes per night, every single day. Elia Starkweather is a janitor and Local 26 member who is sub-contracted to clean the Ameriprise tower in Minneapolis. She has seen the increased workload firsthand, watching staff levels drop and finding herself and her family suffering from the growing pressure.

“I voted to authorize an unfair labor practice strike because our employers are stalling around proposals brought forward that deal directly with our health and our ability to enjoy time with our families. We are doing more and more with less and less, like so many Minnesotans, which puts intense pressure us each and every night. I clean the equivalent of over 20 houses per night, and that has led to me getting hurt and hurts with my ability to play with my children when I get off work,” said Starkweather. “This is happening all over, and it isn’t right. We work hard, and do good work, but we are fighting so that we can have reasonable workloads that allow us to live, not just survive. If our employers won’t have a real conversation about fixing this, we will have to strike.”

Joining the crowd of over 500 janitors and supporters was Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who shared her encouragement with janitors and commended the workers voting to strike for leading the fight to help move our state in a more fair and equal direction. “The Governor and I support your fight because we know that sometimes you have to fight in order to be treated fairly,” said Smith in her speech to the crowd before janitors voted to authorize their ULP strike.

Janitors have been negotiating since October with their employers. Their current three-year contract expired on Dec. 31st.

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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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SEIU Minnesota State Council Endorses Phyllis Kahn

Cite strong experience and proven history fighting for working families

Minneapolis, Minn — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council is excited to announce its endorsement of Representative Phyllis Khan for State Representative in 60B. The SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Board chose to endorse Kahn because of her extensive experience fighting for working families in Minneapolis and her strong support of causes championed by SEIU members.

60B-Kahn“Representative Kahn has always been a champion for working families and her district,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Minnesota State Council. “From students to seniors and from immigrants to life-long Minneapolis residents, no one works harder than Phyllis to reach out to every constituent in her district. In the legislature, she pushes her caucus to embrace the values that SEIU members champion.”

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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 60,000 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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Hundreds of SEIU Members and Supporters March Through Minneapolis Skyway as Contract Campaign Heats Up

As contracts are set to expire, janitors use rally to highlight their goal of a fair contract that begins to close racial and economic disparities in Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minn – As the union contracts between 6,000 SEIU Local 26 members and the sub-contractors who employee them to clean and protect buildings throughout the Twin Cities are set to expire, hundreds of members and community allies rallied and marched through the skyways of downtown Minneapolis Monday. The skyway march, led by members and supporters wearing santa hats with banners and scarfs highlighting the campaign’s goal to ‘Reclaim Your Dreams,” came just 10 days before the first contract of the cycle, covering janitors, is set to expire on December 31st. (Pictures available upon request) SEIU Local 26, a union that is a majority people of color, is fighting for a contract that allows for healthy families and begins to close the racial and economic disparities plaguing our state. Before marching through Minneapolis, Local 26 members spoke out about what they hope to win in this contract, including the Fight for $15, reasonable workloads and policies that allow families to be healthy.

Dec2015_Skyway_March_rsJames Matias, a Local 26 member and part of the Union’s Executive Board, highlighted how the contract proposals would help bring positive change as our state is facing harrowing racial and economic disparities.

“We are fighting not only for our own families, but to help move our region and state in the right direction. In bargaining, we found that raising wages to $15 for all janitors and security officers would lead to over $30 million of economic activity each year being pumped into our communities. Local 26 members are overwhelmingly people of color, which means that money would be going back into areas that have been left behind by our economy for far too long,” said Matias, a father who lives in St. Paul with his family. “When families have fair pay and decent benefits, it helps to improve our whole community. Winning a fair contract will help the families of Local 26 members, but will also be a strong step forward to closing the racial and economic disparities in our state.”

Another issue brought forward by Local 26 members was growing workload facing janitors. Many janitors in the Twin Cities clean the equivalent of more than 20 homes per night, every single day. In the last 20 years, janitorial workloads have increased, making it the highest of all occupations in Minnesota for “lost days from work” due to injury.  Elia Starkweather is a janitor and Local 26 member who is sub-contracted to clean the Ameriprise tower in Minneapolis. She has seen the increased workload firsthand, watching staff levels drop and finding herself and her family suffering from the growing pressure.

“We are doing more and more with less and less, which puts intense pressure us each and every night. Myself and other janitors clean the equivalent of over 20 houses per night, and that has led to me getting hurt and interfering with my ability to spend time with my children when I get off work,” said Starkweather. “This is happening all over, and it isn’t right. We work hard, and do good work, but we are fighting so that we can have reasonable workloads that allow us to live, not just survive.”

Sonja Cortez, a janitor and Local 26 member who works for Marsden cleaning the Wells Fargo building in Minneapolis, talked about why she is fighting for the health of her family.

“I am fighting for a contract that will keep myself and my family healthy. I need good insurance to support my daughter, who is attending college, and fair wages to support my mother who is 85 years old and depends on my help to survive,” said Cortez. “We see in the news how CEOs are getting richer and richer, yet too many of us are fighting just to be able to provide a better life for our families. We won’t stop fighting until we get a contract that helps to make sure we can provide a safe and healthy life for our families. We will keep fighting until we win a fair contract so we can show others that if you stand up and fight, you can reclaim your dreams.”

The contract for janitors expires on December 31st, with security contracts up in March. There are bargaining sessions scheduled for the coming weeks, and Local 26 members have plans for another march on January 11th in St. Paul to continue their calls for a fair contract.

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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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Hamline University Adjuncts Reach Tentative Agreement on Historic First Union Contract

The agreement, called a victory for both faculty and students, will help promote stability through substantial wage increases and new professional development fund

St. Paul, Minn – Late Wednesday night, adjunct faculty at Hamline University reached a tentative agreement for their historic first contract with the University. After 10 years without a raise, adjuncts voted overwhelmingly to form their Union with SEIU Local 284 in June of 2014, and have been negotiating their first contract with the University for over a year. The adjunct faculty on the bargaining team praised the contract as a strong step forward to improving Hamline for adjuncts, students and the whole Hamline community.

Mark Felton, a Hamline adjunct in the business school and member of the bargaining team, highlighted how the contract is a “win-win” for everyone at Hamline.

“Teaching is my passion, which is why I joined the fight to win this first contract that makes Hamline stronger for both adjunct faculty and our students,” said Felton, who has taught at various Higher Education institutions in Minnesota for over 10 years. “Increasing wages after all these years, establishing a professional development fund and crafting a system where adjuncts have advance notice of when we 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 always believed we could reach an agreement that moves everyone forward, and we are proud that we came together and made this contract a reality.”

Della Zurick, a Hamline adjunct who teaches political theory and is a member of the bargaining team, shared that her love of her students got her involved in the campaign and why their support helped to make the contract a reality.

“I teach my students about standing up for their convictions, and feel strongly that this contract does just that for Hamline adjuncts who have fought so hard for what is best for both faculty and students,” said Zurick. “I feel called to teach, and find great joy in engaging with my Hamline students. It has been amazing to see and hear the support they have given us throughout my time on the campaign.  I believe this contract will help to strengthen that experience for all involved at Hamline. When adjuncts aren’t having to run from one job to the next, scrambling to fit together various pieces, it gives us more time to actually teach our students.”

Hamline_University_Old_Main_rsHamline students have been strong supporters of the adjuncts during the campaign for a first contract. Kyle McGuinn, a first year MFA student at Hamline, shared why he worked to support adjuncts and why he was excited for this first contract.

“This agreement is a great step forward for both Hamline students and faculty. Students supported the adjuncts bargaining for a fair first contract because we know that if our teachers are paid fairly and given the support they need, they will have more time to invest in our education,” said McGuinn. “I’m proud that adjuncts stood up for a better future for higher education, and proud that the student body showed our support for the teachers that make our education possible. This is a big win for all of Hamline.”

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

  • Raises for all adjunct faculty. A majority will receive a 15% increase in year 1 and base pay will increase by 20% by the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
  • Additional compensation for adjuncts with their terminal degree and length of service will increase base pay in year 1 by 25% and by 30% in fiscal year 2017-2018.
  • A professional development fund will be established.
  • Adjunct faculty will receive 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 of refusal to teach a course they design or be compensated for the curriculum.
  • Establishment of a Union/University Collaboration Committee (otherwise known as a Labor Management Committee)

Adjunct faculty in the bargaining unit will vote in early 2016 on ratification of the agreement, which would then go into effect for the Spring semester.

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Minnesota Home Care Workers Praise Dismissal of Anti-Union Lawsuit

St. Paul, Minn — Today the 8th Circuit U.S Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling in the case of Greene vs. Dayton, reiterating the right of home care workers in Minnesota to continue their democratically elected Union.

Sumer Spika, a mother from St. Paul who works in home care and is a Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, released the following statement:

“Today’s news of the dismissal of the lawsuit from extremists intent on destroying our Union is good news for home care clients and workers in Minnesota. We are very excited to put this particular lawsuit behind us and continue our work to improve our industry for thousands of families across Minnesota. But we know there are other legal attacks still being made against our right to organize improved standards for home care workers and clients, including in the Bierman v. Dayton case, and we will not let any court challenge stop us from moving forward.

“I am proud of the gains we made in our first contract, winning an $11 pay floor, paid time off for the first time, a training fund and more, but both workers and consumers in Minnesota still deserve much more than we are currently receiving. We are part of the national Fight for $15 because we know that our industry needs pay and benefits that will ensure that care work is treated as a career, not just a temp job, so the people we serve are given the consistent care that they need. Our work, done predominantly by women and people of color, has been undervalued for far too long. With our union, we are beginning to fight back and ensure that workers and the people we serve have a voice, and we won’t let any lawsuit stop us. We are glad that this particular lawsuit is behind us as we move forward in our work to improve the lives of thousands of families across our state.”

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 35,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota.

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Statement from SEIU Executive Director Brian Elliott On Appointment to Minneapolis Workplace Regulations Partnership


Minneapolis, MN 
- Today, the Minneapolis City Council appointed Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council Executive Director Brian Elliott as one of the 15 members of the City’s Workplace Regulations Partnership to study and propose solutions to address the lack of earned sick and safe time by many workers in the City. Below is Elliott’s statement on the appointment: (more…)

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SEIU Minnesota State Council Statement on Black Lives Matter Minneapolis #Justice4Jamar

Minneapolis, Minn — In regards to the police response to the peaceful Black Lives Matter Minneapolis #Justice4Jamar actions in North Minneapolis, the SEIU Minnesota State Council released the following statement:

“Many SEIU members and staff have been spending time at the 4th Precinct over the last few days in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis protesters who are fighting for justice in Minneapolis. This situation, and particularly the actions taken by the police on Wednesday, made it clear that there is an incredibly troubling imbalance in power in Minneapolis. Until that fact changes, we will continue to be in the streets for peaceful protests with our sisters and brothers from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

“SEIU members endorsed and were some of the strongest supporters in getting Mayor Hodges elected, in no small part because of her commitment to closing our city’s awful racial inequalities. For that commitment to have a chance of becoming a reality, Mayor Hodges must engage directly to deescalate the current situation brought on by the police and reengage in productive dialogue with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis to solve not only this situation, but the gnawing racial divides tormenting our city. We believe this moment is an essential test of whether our city moves forward as one, or the cracks of inequality and injustice split wide open. We need leadership of the Mayor more than ever, and we look to support the Mayor in taking immediate action to support those calling for justice.

“We are especially concerned about Chief Harteau’s decision to escalate on a peaceful protest starting Wednesday afternoon. Not only did this not help resolve the situation, it made matters worse and has increased tension and division in our community. If her goal was to open the police station, it has backfired. If her goal was to end the peaceful protest of those exercising their first amendment rights, the opposite has happened. Her decision to crack down on peaceful protesters not only inflames this situation, but it moves us further away from finding real solutions to the problems plaguing our community. These uncalled-for actions only reiterate the feeling among many that their voices are silenced and their concerns are not legitimate. Chief Harteau can and must use this situation to radically rethink her strategy of policing people of color in Minneapolis, especially in North Minneapolis.

“We commend the young people of color who are leading Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, both in this action and in their overall work, so our city finally can have the conversation we need to be having about race and inequality. We urge our city leaders to hear their voices.”

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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 60,000 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.

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