January 25, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Minneapolis, MN- Janitors who clean Home Depot stores in the Twin Cities staged a brief strike early in the morning of Jan. 20 to protest their low wages and the “Trump model” of having subcontractors exploit immigrant workers.
“It’s a poverty wage,” said Luciano Balbuena, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter. “We don’t have benefits, paid sick days, or vacation days. They should pay us more—a living wage so we can survive and live with our families.” Balbuena works seven days a week and makes $9.50 an hour after eight years on the job with Kimco Services, an Atlanta-based subcontractor whose employees clean Home Depot, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penney stores in the Twin Cities. It is the largest janitorial-services company in the region that is still nonunion. The contractors that clean Target, Best Buy, and Macy’s stores recognized Service Employees International Union Local 26 in October, and the 600 janitors are now negotiating their first contract. The Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (Center for Workers United in Struggle), which organized the strike, noted that two founders of Home Depot donated millions of dollars to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Read more