Features, Municipal Government, National, New York

SEIU Scores First Success Organizing Big-Box Store Janitors

October 19, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

SEIUMinneapolis, MA – More than 500 janitors at big-box stores in the Twin Cities have joined Service Employees International Union Local 26, making it the first major metropolitan area where the union has organized retail janitors. The janitors, who generally make slightly above minimum wage, will start negotiating a contract with four cleaning companies next month. “We were told that the industry was impossible to organize—this was a fractured, subcontracted industry,” Veronica Mendez Moore, co-president of the workers’ center Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha, said at a press conference Oct. 13. SEIU and CTUL began organizing the janitors six years ago, and after several mini-strikes and protests, Target agreed in 2014 that it would strongly encourage cleaning contractors it hired to accept collective bargaining, and the workers agreed not to form a union until contractors at 60% of big-box stores in the area let them organize. Macy’s, Best Buy, and, earlier this month, Whole Foods followed. “I really hope to advance our wage that we’re earning, but two benefits that are important to me are health insurance and paid sick days,” Maricela Flores, 43, a Mexican immigrant who works at Target for $9.50 an hour, said in Spanish. Read more

October 19, 2016

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