Workers Vote to Ratify New Contracts, Celebrate A Win for Working Families

Minneapolis, MN – After two months without a contract, hundreds of hours of negotiations, and a one-day strike, today SEIU Local 26 janitors and security officers voted to approve new contracts which will help strengthen the middle class in the Twin Cities.

“This is a major victory for working families,” said Margarita Del Angel Lopez, a janitor who works at the IDS Center in Minneapolis. “We work hard to support our families, we fought hard against cuts that would have destroyed thousands of jobs. This shows that when we stand together, we can move forward together. These are the best contracts in the history of the local service sector industry.”

“Suburban security officers have been working for years without a raise,” said Fred Anthony II, a security officer from St Paul. “Some of them haven’t had a raise in up to eight or 10 years. This is the first time they have guaranteed contracts, guaranteed health care, guaranteed job security. It helps bring them out of poverty.”

More than 6,000 janitors and security officers won $1.20 raises over three years, which will pump $48 million into local communities. They also protected stable, full-time positions for thousands of workers. In addition, janitors and security officers secured better employer-based healthcare coverage, which will enable workers to access affordable coverage, rather than be forced to rely on public programs paid for by taxpayers.
This marks the first contract for 1,000 suburban security officers who formed their union with SEIU Local 26 in January 2011 – in addition to getting raises for the first time in years, they gained employer-based healthcare coverage for the first time ever.

“So often, we see the rich get richer, while the rest of us continue falling behind,” said Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26. “Seeing working people win is a very important thing. It’s a beautiful thing. And so congratulations to all of our members who worked hard for this win. Together, we are working toward a better future for all of Minnesota, where people who work for a living are able to make a living. We showed that the labor movement is alive and well in Minnesota.”

SEIU Local 26 janitors reached a tentative agreement last Saturday after 31 consecutive hours of bargaining. SEIU Local 26 security officers spent Wednesday on the streets in a one-day strike before reaching an agreement Thursday evening. They had been working without a contract since December 31.

Local 26 janitors and security officers clean and protect property for some of Minnesota’s richest corporations, including Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and Target.

“As we hear more and more about people struggling to make ends meet, these contracts ensure that workers can keep more of the profits they help provide to these wealthy corporations,” said Brahim Kone, a janitor at Flint Hills refinery. “Through our union, we have been able to negotiate several contracts over the years to move thousands of Minnesotans into the middle class, to help workers improve their lives.”

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