Twin Cities retail-store janitors are ready to strike on Sunday

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS  , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 18, 2013 - 9:10 PM

Cleaning staff for large retailers are seeking union representation.

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Jan. 22:Around 150-200 Twin Cities janitors and security officers rallied with their allies at the Hennepin County Government Center before marching through the skyways to encourage employers to begin bargaining in good faith.

Photo: Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

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Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) represents about 400 Twin Cities janitors who want to open labor discussions with Diversified Maintenance Systems, Carlson Building Maintenance and Eurest Services. The firms provide cleaning staff for retailers such as Target, Kohl’s, Home Depot, Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, J.C. Penney and others. CTUL said those workers have been trying to organize for two years.

CTUL said workers agreed to strike Sunday after attempts to negotiate with three key janitorial-service contractors failed to produce any meetings. Officials at Diversified and Carlson could not be reached for comment. Eurest officials said they did not yet have sufficient information about the janitors’ requests to comment.

CTUL organizers said they want to talk to the companies “regarding the right to organize without fear of retaliation. ... Should the companies not agree to the workers’ request by Sunday, the workers have agreed to an unfair labor practice strike, which could occur at any time following the noon deadline,” officials said in a statement.

CTUL janitors said their wages are too low. “The irony to all of this is that workers who clean Target’s downtown corporate office are represented by the SEIU Local 26 and so make $13.42 an hour. But those workers who clean Target’s retail stores just a block away are not represented and so are making only $8.50 an hour,” said CTUL organizer Brian Payne.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) janitors and security staffers working in Twin Cities corporate offices are currently in labor negotiations.

In contrast, CTUL members complained of being harassed or intimidated for trying to start negotiations, Payne said.

 

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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