A planned protest outside of Best Buy Inc.’s shareholders meeting Tuesday morning turned into a small celebration after the janitors who clean its stores reached an agreement with the Richfield-based electronics retailer to use a “responsible” contractor.
Best Buy made the pledge Monday night to Service Employees International Union Local 26 (SEIU), which has pressed for better conditions, including the right to organize, for janitors who work at Twin Cities Best Buy stores.
Details are still to be hashed out, but the janitors’ allies likened it to a similar agreement reached with Minneapolis-based Target Corp. in June 2014.
“Si se puede,” about 30 people at the rally chanted in Spanish, which roughly translates to “it can be done” or “yes we can” in English.
Veronica Mendez Moore, co-director of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), which works closely with SEIU, said a responsible contractor policy typically includes provisions such as the right of workers to organize, to not have to work seven days in a row, and to have a health and safety committee partly made up of workers.
Best Buy spokesman Jeff Shelman did not go into details about the commitment, but acknowledged that the company has had “constructive discussions” with SEIU Local 26 and its janitorial vendor, Kellermeyer Bergensons Services (KBS), which is based in Ohio.
“I’m happy that Best Buy has heard our voices and has taken a leadership role to improve the janitorial industry here in Minnesota,” Jose Gonzalez, a janitor who cleans Best Buy stores and is a member of CTUL, said in a statement. “I am confident that janitors who clean Best Buy will be able to begin a dialogue with our employer and improve our working conditions.”
In December 2014, Best Buy’s contractor, KBS, signed an agreement with SEIU acknowledging the rights of workers to organize a union. But Moore said the company has not followed through, which is why labor organizers have been pushing Best Buy to enact a responsible contractor policy.
KBS did not respond to a request for comment.
The labor issue did not come up during the shareholders meeting, which was held at Best Buy’s Richfield headquarters.
The 45-minute meeting had about 50 people in attendance and was fairly routine other than marking the departure of Chief Financial Officer Sharon McCollam, who is moving into an advisory role. McCollam’s early retirement came as a surprise to investors when it was announced last month. Corie Barry, a Best Buy veteran, is succeeding her.