Some of the people who clean downtown Minneapolis offices and staff those security desks marched through the skyways on Monday, calling for higher wages and benefits in a new union contract.
About 60 members of SEIU Local 26 — the Service Employees International Union — gathered at the Hennepin County Government Center and donned red Santa hats before taking their demonstration through the skyways. They chanted and urged office-worker onlookers to support them in their quest for a $15 minimum wage, health care coverage and reasonable workloads.
The union has about 6,000 members covered by two contracts that will soon expire: one for janitorial staff and one for security guards. SEIU President Javier Morillo said that previous contract negotiations have led to some pay raises but that they also have prompted building managers to increase workers’ responsibilities.
He said the union wanted to send a seasonal reminder that “magical elves don’t clean your offices; janitors with families do.”
James Matias, a security guard, said the workers’ demands could help erase some of Minneapolis’ considerable racial disparities in health, wealth and other areas. He said a $15 minimum wage — something the Minneapolis City Council is studying — would put millions of dollars in the pockets of hourly workers.
“That would be a huge win for our diverse union,” he said.