A union representing 2,000 security guards is moving ahead with plans for a one-day strike as early as Monday that could affect some of the Twin Cities' biggest corporations.
Contract talks broke down on Friday between the union and contractors that supply security guards to Target, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and many other corporate buildings. The union had said it would call for a strike if no deal was reached by Sunday, but would not give precise details about when or where the walkout would occur.
"We said if our deadline was not met, we would strike, so this week we will strike," said Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26, at a rally for union members Sunday at Minneapolis South High School. Morillo said they hope to use the one-day strike to prompt the employers to return to the negotiating table quickly. But he did not rule out a longer strike down the road.David Duddleston, a lawyer for the employers, said the two sides had been making progress and had already agreed to resume talks on March 12. He said that the companies "would have preferred to be able to avoid" a strike but that they need more time to study the union's proposals. He said he was confident "we will reach an agreement." The guards work for seven large contractors that provide security throughout the Twin Cities.
Fred Anthony II, a security guard who serves on the union's negotiating team, said the guards are seeking a "livable wage" as well as more affordable health insurance. The starting salary is now $12.50 per hour. "For a family of four, that's below the poverty level," Anthony said. He said that the union proposed a $1 an hour increase two months ago, but that the employers have yet to make a counteroffer. The contract expired in December.
On Friday, the same union reached a tentative contract settlement on behalf of another group of Twin Cities workers, some 6,000 janitors who provide cleaning services for many of the same corporations. "There's no reason why security officers should have to strike, and no reason they shouldn't have a contract already," Morillo said.