I am a security officer in downtown Minneapolis . Along with many of my co-workers, I looked forward to getting a raise this year, but so far my employers have refused to bargain with us on wages. As workers, we organized through SEIU Local26 and have asked the companies to negotiate multiple times. The few times we have met, our negotiations went nowhere. Our contract expired on December 31st, and the companies are now stalling.
Today, we waited over 4 ½ hours in a hotel conference room only to hear the companies tell us they no longer want to talk about specific points. They want to leave much of the language as-is, so we have essentially gone nowhere at this point in time. Their new spokesperson lawyer is from the anti-union firm Jackson Lewis. This firm specializes in union busting in various legal forms, which obviously includes bargaining tactics.
While we tried working towards some tentative agreements on job vacancies and union recognition, the companies did not want to agree on anything. What is their purpose, for example, in opposing job openings being posted online and at specific work sites? Also, we feel that union recognition in the Twin Cities should be the same in both downtown and the suburbs. If the companies agree to the same language in both places, we can move forward on both of these and focus on important economic issues–like pay.
Yet not everyone was unsuccessful in today’s bargaining. The Block by Block ambassadors, who do security work but are working on a separate contract, have reached several tentative agreements with their employer. It should be possible to do the same with all the other companies. Their new spokesperson said that “[They] have other work to do.” Yet, they continue to waste our time with stalling tactics rather than realistic negotiating.
To me, it seems that the downtown and suburban security companies are refusing to do any real work towards bargaining. Their stalling tactics and nonsensical, idle chatter are infuriating to me because so many people are affected by it. Security officers in the suburbs who have not seen raises for years, now have the opportunity to receive them. Downtown officers can move towards more livable wages and a professionalizing of the industry. We deserve a fair deal for our part in providing security for so many in our communities.
The companies may not be serious about time spent bargaining, but we are.