Some 4,000 janitors represented by Service Employees International Union Local 26 will walk off the job Wednesday, while retail cleaners – who are not unionized – say they plan to strike Thursday.
Both groups are seeking improvements in wages and working conditions, including relief from heavy workloads. Both strikes will include rallies in downtown Minneapolis.
SEIU Local 26 negotiated with cleaning contractors over the weekend but no agreement was reached by the Feb. 14 deadline set by the union. Members will strike over unfair labor practices by the employers, with specific times and locations to be announced Wednesday, the union said.
“The strike will hit some of the largest and most prominent buildings throughout the metro over the course of the day,” the union said. “It will be the first strike by sub-contracted union janitors in the Twin Cities in decades.”
Local 26 also has called a community rally from 7 p.m. Wednesday at U.S. Bank Plaza, 200 S. 6th St., Minneapolis.
Retail cleaners who belong to CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle, say they will walk off the job at 5:30 a.m. Thursday.
The workers include employees of Capital Building Services Group, which cleans Macy's and Herberger's stores; National Floor Maintenance, which cleans Lunds & Byerlys stores; Kimco Services, which cleans Kohl's, The Home Depot and JC Penneys; and Diversified Maintenance Systems, which cleans Sears and Kmart stores.
“While workers have won significant progress, there are still many serious abuses in the workplace from wage theft to poverty wages to unsafe working conditions,” CTUL said in announcing the strike action.
Their walkout will coincide with a march by low-wage workers at 7 a.m., Thursday, starting at 9th Ave. and Nicollet Mall.
“Business as usual in Minnesota has led us to the worst racial disparities in the country,” said Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, organizer of the march. “Minnesota’s largest corporations steal wealth from communities of color when they pay poverty wages, don’t invest in our schools and pollute our environment.
“Next Thursday, Feb. 18, hundreds of Minnesotans will come together in downtown Minneapolis through the Minnesotans for a Fair Economy coalition to send a clear message to the corporate elite: no more business as usual!”