Twin Cities security guards hope 1-day walkout will lead to deal

  • Article by: JUSTIN MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 26, 2013 - 12:29 PM

Although the union reached a janitors contract Friday, an agreement with security contractors has proved tougher.

 

More than 2,000 security officers in the Twin Cities could walk off the job at any time this week, a move designed to jump-start stalled negotiations with the security contractors who employ them, union officials said Monday.Local 26 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents the officers, declined to specify details of the job action but said there will be a one-day walkout this week.

There has been growing frustration at the bargaining table, said SEIU spokeswoman with claiming the security contractors have been unwilling to make a real effort to reach a new agreement.On Friday, the SEIU reached a tentative contract settlement on behalf of another group of Twin Cities workers, 4,000 janitors who provide cleaning services for many of the same corporations, including Target, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.While union janitors and their contractors met for more than 30 hours to reach an agreement, according to the union, security contractors left the table Friday after just seven hours. The security officers have been without a contract since Dec. 31. “What the building owners need to think about is, now that we have a janitor contract, this strike is 100 percent the choice of security contractors. There’s a template out there now,” Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26, said in an interview Monday.The security officers are seeking wage increases, more affordable health care and job safety provisions. Meanwhile, employers are still haggling over language for full-time jobs and working conditions and have not returned with a proposal of their own, ­Brickman said.

A spokesman for the security contractors, David Duddleston, could not be reached Monday.

“It’s a huge sacrifice for workers to go on strike,” Brickman said. “Most workers are living paycheck to paycheck.”

SEIU security officers have used a one-day walkout as a means to reach contract agreements before. In 2008, security officers staged a daylong walkout and eventually reached a five-year agreement that included wage increases and lower health care rates.

The union’s contract campaign for janitors and security officers has seen an array of support from community leaders including the Minneapolis and St. Paul city councils, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Congressman Keith Ellison.But the SEIU’s effort to pressure the corporations where the union employees work has been unsuccessful, according to Brickman. Attempts to reach out to corporate leaders at companies such as Target, Ecolab and Wells Fargo have gone unanswered, Brickman said.In a separate but related development late Monday, retail cleaning workers who clean Target, Kmart, Sears and other retail stores in the Twin Cities said they plan to walk off the job, citing unfair labor practices. These 400 or so workers are not in a union. They work for contract cleaning companies in an arrangement similar to the SEIU members. The retail cleaners have joined together through Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a Twin Cities workers center. This will be the first strike involving subcontracted retail janitors who clean Target and other stores in the United States, the CTUL said in a statement.Picketing will begin at 6 a.m. Tuesday in front of Target’s retail store in downtown Minneapolis. The CTUL said unfair labor practices have occurred including: workers being told that they would be fired for signing petitions and/or participating in an unfair labor practice strike; two workers being fired after having publicly spoken about their organizing efforts; and general intimidation.

Justin Miller is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.

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