Minneapolis, MN – Twin Cities security officers are celebrating today after reaching a tentative agreement with all of their employers that strengthens the middle class through stable, full-time jobs. The major victory came late Thursday, when the remaining six subcontractors finally came to a tentative agreement with 2,000 security officers.
“We are exhausted, but elated,” said Elena Krelberg, Local 26 security officer. “We won because we all stood together. Standing shoulder to shoulder with our community, security officers and janitors together won the best contracts in the history of the local service sector industry.”
SEIU Local 26 security officers spent Wednesday on the streets in a one-day strike; employers came back to the bargaining table Thursday morning. After another marathon bargaining session, security officers were able to win a contract with many of the same standards won by 4,000 SEIU Local 26 janitors last weekend. This agreement marks the first contract for 1,000 suburban security officers who formed their union with SEIU Local 26 in January 2011 and have been working to settle a contract ever since, growing the labor movement in Minnesota. The tentative agreement with security officers includes hard-fought gains in:
– Full-time work: Security officers protected hundreds of full-time jobs that would have been converted to part-time, resulting in lower wages and loss of health care and other benefits. Instead, they secured stable, full-time positions, strengthening job security.
– Wages: Security officers agreed to wage increases of $1.20 over three years. The wage increase helps bring security officers out of poverty and pumps an additional $18 million a year into the local community.
– Healthcare: Major gains were made in healthcare coverage for security officers. Suburban security officers will be offered employer-based healthcare coverage for the first time ever. All security officers secured better health care coverage, which will enable workers to access affordable coverage, rather than be forced to rely on public programs paid for by taxpayers.
– Sick days: Security officers won one additional day of sick time, allowing them to stay at home when ill.
– Professionalizing the Industry: With the creation of the “Senior Officer” job classification, security officers made gains in their efforts to professionalize an industry that keeps so many people and so much property safe.
The tentative agreement is being hailed as tangible evidence of how union membership and participation can help workers improve their lives. At a time of widespread wage and benefit stagnation, security officers in the Twin Cities have been able to keep more of the profits they provide to some of Minnesota’s wealthiest corporations. In 2002, security officers were paid as little as $7.00 an hour with few, if any, benefits. By negotiating several union contracts—each one better than the last—with their employers over the years, security officers have created a path to work themselves into the middle class.
Security officers will join janitors Saturday when both groups will meet to ratify their tentative agreements.