In a vote that raised the ire of some, the St. Paul City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution to support union janitors and urge good-faith negotiations among the parties to avoid a strike.
Council President Kathy Lantry, who sponsored the resolution, said she did so as a call to action. "There's an urgency that we want to make sure everybody gets," she said.
A strike was authorized by SEIU Local 26, which represents more than 4,000 members metro-wide who have been working without a contract since Jan. 8. They want full-time jobs, better health care and to switch to eco-friendly cleaning products.
The resolution raised the ire of some building owners and others in the business community. "It is totally inappropriate and ridiculous for the City Council to insert itself into negotiations," said Liz Bogut, spokeswoman for the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.
Javier Morillo, Local 26 president, said the resolution sends an important message to get a deal done.
Negotiations between the union and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association, which represents companies that provide janitorial services to Twin Cities businesses, continue this week.
Also Wednesday, council members learned that two ratings firms, Moody's and Standard and Poor's, had good opinions of the city's finances. Standard and Poor's gave the city its highest AAA rating. Moody's gave a AA2 rating and upgraded its outlook for the city's finances to positive. The better the rating, the less interest the city has to pay when it issues bonds for things such as street projects.