Minnesota corporation commits to improving retail janitorial field
Richfield, Minn — Instead of the planned protest outside of the Best Buy shareholders meeting Tuesday morning, retail janitors and allies cheered a new agreement at an event outside of the corporation’s headquarters. The two sides agreed to a process where Best Buy will work to ensure they use a responsible janitorial contracting service.
“I’m happy that Best Buy has heard our voices and has taken a leadership role to improve the janitorial industry here in Minnesota,” said Jose Gonzalez, a retail janitor employed by KBS to clean Best Buy stores, and member of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL). “I am confident that janitors who clean Best Buy will be able to begin a dialogue with our employer and improve our working conditions.”
For nearly six years, janitors who clean retail stores in the Twin Cities have organized to win fair wages, decent benefits and end wage theft and other illegal practices in the industry with CTUL, a Twin Cities worker center. Two years ago, Target Corporation agreed to implement a Responsible Contractor Policy to improve workplace conditions for retail janitors and ensure a safe and fair process for janitors that clean Target stores to have a voice at work.
Now, Best Buy, one of Minnesota’s largest corporations, is also taking a leadership role in the retail industry by ensuring that they use a responsible janitorial contractor to clean Best Buy stores. This is a significant step in the campaign to win justice for all retail janitors and provides strong leadership for other retail companies to follow. It comes at a time when stores like Herberger’s are taking positive steps towards implementing similar policies.
Maricela Flores, who works for Carlson cleaning a Target store in the Twin Cities and is a member of CTUL, joined other retail cleaners in praising this positive step forward.
“This news makes me very happy. We as workers have been organizing to change the reality facing too many families in our state by fighting for better working conditions and higher wages in the retail janitorial industry,” said Flores. “Today, because of our struggle to bring these injustices to light, Best Buy has listened to our petitions and is showing leadership by agreeing to contract a responsible janitorial contractor to clean their stores. We hope that other stores will follow large corporations like Best Buy and Target in working to recognize the need for change in the retail janitorial field in Minnesota”
Retail janitors have been at the forefront of the fight over the last five years to craft solutions to help address Minnesota’s racial disparities, which are some of the worst in the country when it comes to health, wages, and quality of life among whites and people of color.