Update: Sunday Strike Deadline Looms for Janitors, Security Officers
SEIU Local 26 reports talks for contract security officers broken off but negotiations continue for office janitors.
Update (Friday evening, Feb. 22):
SEIU Local 26 issued the following statement early this evening: "This afternoon negotiations with contractors for SEIU Local 26 security officers ended without a contract, despite a Sunday deadline from workers to strike."
Without a new contract, security officers have vowed they will go on strike as early as Monday.
Negotiations continued, however, for janitors, who are prepared to stay the whole night to win a new contract. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association has said its willing to stay as late as it takes to negotiate a new contract before the Sunday deadline workers set.
SEIU Local 26 janitors have said they will also go on strike as early as Monday if they do not win a new contract by Sunday.
Friday morning, Feb. 22:
SEIU Local 26 reports its bargaining committees representing janitors and security officers headed back to the table with their employers in a last-ditch effort to negotiate a contract for 6,000 of its members in the Twin Cities.
The workers approved strike authorization earlier this month, and just this week announced Sunday as the deadline to win new contracts before going on strike.
In a press statement, the union said its negotiators are willing to stay as long as it takes to reach an agreement. “We have sleeping bags and pillows and we’re ready to talk through the night to make sure that hard work gets rewarded in Minnesota again,” Alfredo Estrada, a janitor at the Minnesota Center, said in a statement.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association have told Local 26 they are also prepared to stay as late as it takes, the union said. (Initial proposals from the janitorial employers included cutting more than 1,200 full-time positions and eliminating employer-based insurance benefits.)
Security employers, however, have said they will only negotiate until 4 p.m., Local 26 said.
Tuesday, Feb. 19:
SEIU Local 26 on Tuesday issued a press statement, asserting that "if employers do not propose fair contracts that help move workers forward by Sunday, Local 26 members are likely to strike the week of Feb. 25, perhaps as early as Monday." The union has classified the potential work stoppage as an " Unfair Labor Practices" strike.
Meanwhile, in a similar but separate labor dispute, retail cleaning workers who serve Target and other stores in the Twin Cities have vowed to walk off their jobs as early as this Sunday if their employers continue to refuse to open discussions with them and the Centro de Trabajodores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), according to the workers' group.
The CTUL said it is a Minneapolis workers center that has been organizing the workers for more than two years. The potential work stoppage against some contract cleaning firms would affect Target stores at more than a dozen Twin Cities locations.
(Original post, Feb. 10)
More than 500 Twin Cities-area union janitors and security officers voted unanimously Saturday (Feb. 9)to give their bargaining committees strike authorization in the slow-moving labor negotiations.
Saturday’s vote means that the janitors’ and security officers’ bargaining committees representing more than 6,000 janitors throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul and the suburbs could call for a strike at any time, according to the workers' union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26.
SEIU representatives said they been bargaining for months for new contracts and that the groups have been working since Dec. 31 without new contracts. The union said that management is proposing cuts in full-time positions, wages and health care benefits.
“If my job was cut to part-time, it would be like suicide,” Brahim Kone, a janitor at Flint Hills refinery, said in an union press statement. “I make just enough money now to pay the bills for my wife and my two children. I fear if my wages were cut, I would lose my home. ”
The union said security contractors have proposed moving hundreds of positions to part-time, eliminating all benefits and access to health care. Janitorial contractors are proposing cuts to more than 50 percent of janitors, with cuts as high as 40 percent for many members. "For many workers, health coverage for their family would cost around $700 a month," the union said in a press statement Saturday.
Joining the Local 26 members for their strike vote was U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, as well as dozens of community allies, the union said.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association was not immediately available for comment.
David Duddleston, a Minneapolis attorney representing the security contractors, issued this statement on behalf of his clients:
"The contractors employing the security officers are bargaining in good faith. Both sides are scheduled to meet with one another twice next week and have other scheduled meetings after that. The contractors will continue, as they believe the union will also continue, to make further progress toward reaching a collective bargaining agreement."
The workers' votes to authorize strikes, if necessary, are ultimately likely to push the parties to sit down at the negotiations table and hammer out new agreements. For example, three years ago, Local 26 janitors gave the union strike authorization but they were able to avert a work stoppage and reached a settlement with management.
Still, if a strike were to occur this time, a labor stoppage would affect commercial office buildings at hundreds of locations across the Twin Cities, from Apple Valley and Burnsville to Stillwater and Woodbury.
A media representative for Local 26 said the union has janitors and security officers working at these buildings across the metro:
Apple Valley – Anchor Bank, Dakota County West Service Center
Burnsville – Gateway Office Plaza, Park Nicollet Clinic
Eagan – Thomson Reuters, TCA National Headquarters, Ecolab, Blue Cross – Yankee place and Waterview, plus corporate
Eden Prairie – United Healthcare Optum Health Buildings, GE Capital, Crosstown Centre, First Western Bank and Trust, Prairie Lutheran Church, Hennepin County Library
Edina – Southdale Office Centre and mall, Galleria, Minnesota Center, Fairview Southdale Hospital, Edina Corporate Center, One Corporate Center/Plaza, US Bank, Wells Fargo
Fridley – Medtronic HQ, Target Dist. Center
Golden Valley – General Mills HQ, Target Financial, KARE-11 TV, Wells Fargo Golden Valley
Hopkins – Cargill
Lakeville – Cedar Ave Prof Building
Maple Grove – Arbor Lakes, Wells Fargo Maplewood,
Mendota Heights –Mendota Office Center
Minneapolis – More than 200 locations in the city with the most workers concentrated at US Bank, Wells Fargo and Target.
Minnetonka – Cargill, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics
Plymouth – Plymouth Corporate Center, US Bank
Roseville – Rosedale Corporate Plaza,Rosedale Shopping Center. Roseville Corporate Center, MN Dept of Education, Symantec – Centre Pointe Business Park, MN Dot – Metro District, Rosedale Corporate Plaza, Roseville West Office, Symantec, Windsor Office Plaza, Roseville Professional Center,
Rosedale Towers, Twin Lakes Medical, Centre Pointe Business Park, Rosewood Office Plaza, Sebesta Blomberg, Roseridge Office Plaza, Northstar Bank – Roseville, Fed Ex, Roseville Area High School, Seimens Building Technologies, Ramsey County Library – Roseville, Industrial Fabrics Assn Intl, Children’s Center Pointe Admin Building
St. Louis Park – Metropoint buildings
Woodbury – Woodbury Lakes Shoping Center, Office Place, Medtronic, Target Direct