Minneapolis, MN —Hundreds of people marched down Central Ave after SEIU Local 26 security officers and janitors voted on their contract demands to open contract negotiations that will impact over 6,000 workers throughout the Twin Cities. Joining the SEIU Local 26 members were members of MN350, 15NOW, CTUL, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Minnesotans for a Fair Economy and others in a march that called for big corporations like U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo to support workers’ rights both through contract fights and in support of the #MPLSWorks policies currently being debated in Minneapolis that call for fair scheduling, paid sick time and an end to wage theft to help address the racial and economic disparities in our city and state.
One of the people at the contract vote and march was SEIU Local 26 member Kevin Chavis, a security officer for Allied Barton in Minneapolis.
“Hundreds of SEIU members came together and voted to fight for things like paid sick time to be able to take care of ourselves and our families in our coming contract negotiations. We work at some of the biggest, wealthiest buildings in the Twin Cities, yet we don’t get adequate paid time off or the wages that we deserve,” said Chavis, who lives in Minneapolis. “It is exciting that other campaigns, including the #MPLSWorks campaign fighting for things like fair schedules, paid sick time and a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis to address our awful racial disparities, are marching today so that the voices of working people in our community are heard loud and clear.”
Elia Starkweather, a SEIU Local 26 member who cleans the CSC Ameriprise building in Minneapolis, said that she was excited to see so many people coming together to fight for things like paid sick time for working families in the Twin Cities because she knows how hard it is for individual workers to raise their concerns to their bosses.
“It isn’t right that we work hard, year after year, making sure buildings in our communities are safe and clean, yet many of us only have one to three days of paid time off if anyone in our family gets sick,” said Starkweather, who lives in Hopkins with her husband and three children. “There are so many of my co-workers who are scared to speak up, and it makes me angry and sad. We all want a better future for our kids. That is why we are coming together to fight for better conditions and dignity for the 6,000 workers in our Union.”
SEIU Local 26 member and St. Paul security officer James Matias kicked off the huge march, led by children with signs naming their dream jobs, highlighting that many workers are fighting for a better future for their children, by linking together all of the various campaigns that are moving.
“We know there are far too many working people in the Twin Cities who face struggles with low pay, lack of paid sick time and things like erratic schedules. Today we are going to march to a few of the corporations that have a direct impact on not only our work lives, but our health through things like their environmental impact,” said Matias. “Working people are facing a crisis, and rich corporations like U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo need to hear our voices. With our vote to come together and fight, along with this huge march, we are showing that our struggles are connected and that we are truly stronger together.”
SEIU Local 26 is Minnesota’s Property Services Union, uniting more than 6,000 janitors, security officers, and window cleaners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. SEIU unites more than 225,000 property services workers nationally, and over 2 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.
Minneapolis Works is the worker-led coalition of community, labor and faith groups fighting to improve economic and racial equity in Minneapolis