Janitors reach tentative agreement, while security officers plan strike
25 February 2013
|MINNEAPOLIS - Service Employees International Union Local 26 and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association reached a tentative agreement covering 4,000 Twin Cities janitors, but 2,000 security officers plan a walkout after failing to reach a deal with their employers.
|The janitors’ victory came on the eve of an “Unlock Our Future” week of action being coordinated by members of community, student, environmental, and labor groups. A security officer strike, which could occur as early as Monday, would also be part of the week of action.
The tentative agreement for a three-year contract will provide significant gains for janitors in hours, wages, healthcare, workload and job security, the union said. The deal came just after 4 p.m. Saturday after more than 31 consecutive hours of bargaining. Janitors still need to ratify the contract.
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.
Talks broke down Friday afternoon for 2,000 security officers after employers walked away from the table. The security officers had announced a Sunday deadline for employers to offer a fair proposal, including fair wages, access to healthcare and stable, full-time jobs.
Strengthening the middle class is the focus of the week of action planned by 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.
Last week, they sent a joint letter to the heads of U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Target urging the corporations to address a variety of issues, including the housing, state revenue and jobs crises. On Sunday, they held a training to plan a series of actions starting Monday.
Community support was clearly a key to winning a better contract, janitors said. Their tentative agreement came after a campaign that galvanized support from a vast array of 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.”