Janitorial

As Strike Deadline Looms, New Report Highlights Unsafe Workloads and Rising Productivity Demands Facing Twin Cities Janitors

The report, titled ‘Back Breaking Profits,’ highlights how decades of sub-contracting has caused the current situation that contributed to janitors voting to authorize strike

Minneapolis, Minn— Just weeks after Twin Cities janitors voted unanimously to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike, and the committee set a Feb. 14th deadline for the 4,000 janitors across the Metro to get a fair contract from their employers, a new report titled Back Breaking Profits is shining a light on one of the major issues highlighted by janitors who voted to authorize a strike. The new report lays clear how in the Twin Cities, as in the rest of the United States, the janitorial industry has undergone massive subcontracting in the last three decades, and the harm that has meant for workers, families and our communities.

small bbp cover page

From the report:

In the last decade, janitorial services contractors have reduced the number of janitors, forcing the remaining workforce to cover more territory, leading to injuries and high stress for workers. The work is labor intensive, and fast-paced, demanding heavy lifting, repetitive motions, bending and crouching in unnatural positions. Building cleaning and maintenance occupations had the highest rate of days-away-from-work due to on-the-job injury or illness in Minnesota during 2014, nearly three times the average of all private sector occupations.

The cleaning industry is in crisis and janitors are facing the worst of it. Service Employees International Union Local 26 janitorial members have experienced drastic increases in workload; many say the changes began more than 30 years ago, when building owners started contracting out cleaning services rather than employing those workers directly.

The report includes personal testimonies from Twin Cities janitors who are members of the SEIU Local 26 and would be part of a strike if the contract hasn’t been reached by the Feb 14th deadline. Jessica Hansen has been a janitor since 1977, when a majority of workers like her were white, and has seen the changes as her job has gone from being considered a “good job,” with fair pay, free healthcare, pensions and more, to the current challenges facing workers. Currently over 90% of janitors in the Twin Cities with SEIU Local 26 are people of color. On average, janitors clean the equivalent per square feet of more than 20 houses every night, while some clean much more than that.

In the report, janitors like Elia, who cleans the Ameriprise tower in Minneapolis, share the real world implications of the rising workloads facing janitors and their families. Her testimony includes sharing that “four people got injured at the building I clean between April to December, and I was one of them. Because of my injury, I had to be on light duty for weeks, but the worst part is I’m in so much pain, I can’t play with my children,” she stated. There are countless stories like Elia’s, including many shared in the report, that highlight why increasing workload is such a major issue for janitors, and all working people, across Minnesota.

The report highlights steps being proposed by the janitor’s in negotiations to address this crisis, including:

  • Worker-centered enforcement of safety rules.  Walkthroughs and information for janitors to resolve issues at worksite where they know best. Janitors are experts in their field, they know what works, what doesn’t, what can be accomplished safely and when they’re being pushed to their limits. Workload walkthroughs with janitor, union steward and supervisor are a necessary tool to resolve issues at worksite.
  • Sustainable staffing levels. Establishing reasonable staffing levels, such as 40,000 square feet per night and 225 bathroom units, would ensure manageable workloads and prevent on-the-job injuries.
  • Data driven analysis of how to improve. Fielding an academic study from the University of Minnesota to evaluate ergonomic best practices and asses the effects of workload on janitors

Read the whole report HERE. Workers from the report and the report’s main author are available for comment.

Background: On January 23rd, janitors with SEIU Local 26 voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a unfair labor practice strike as their employers continue to stall and intimidate workers in bargaining over a new contract for the 4,000 janitors in the Twin Cities. Workers have been fighting for a $15 floor for all workers, a fix to a growing workload crisis and policies that support healthy families. In response they have only seen stalling from employers. The bargaining committee announced a Feb. 14th deadline to reach a fair contract that allows for healthy families and strengthens our community by fighting to address income and racial disparities plaguing our state. If a contract agreement is not reached by Feb. 14th, the committee could call a strike at any point going forward. Janitors have been negotiating since October with their employers. Their current three-year contract expired on Dec. 31st.

###

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.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Los empleados de la limpieza autorizan a ir a huelga, ya que los empleadores continúan entorpeciendo las negociaciones del Contrato Colectivo de Condiciones de Trabajo

Junto a los aliados de la comunidad, incluyendo a la Vicegobernadora Tina Smith, los empleados de la limpieza continúan dirigiendo la campaña para la lucha ‘recuperar nuestros sueños’ y ganar un contrato que ayude a mejorar las desigualdades raciales y económicas.

DSC_0406 2

 

Minneapolis, MN — Los trabajadores de la limpieza de SEIU Local 26 votaron hoy para autorizar a su Comité de Negociaciones para que hagan el llamado a la huelga por las prácticas laborales injustas, ya que los empleadores continúan entorpeciendo la negociación e intimidando a los trabajadores durante la negociación por el nuevo Contrato para 4,000 trabajadores de la limpieza de las Ciudades Gemelas.  Los trabajadores han venido luchando para ganar el salario mínimo de $15.00 dólares la hora, para solucionar la crisis por el aumento del volumen (carga) de trabajo, así como por normas para que apoyar a las familias para que estén saludables. En respuesta ellos sólo han visto el entorpecimiento de los empleadores.  El Comité de Negociaciones anunció que el 14 de febrero es la fecha límite para acordar un Contrato justo  para que las familias gocen de salud, para fortalecer la comunidad y para solucionar la desigualdad en los ingresos y la desigualdad racial que afecta a nuestro estado. Si para el 14 de febrero no se ha llegado al acuerdo para el Contrato, de esa fecha en adelante, en cualquier momento el Comité de Negociaciones podría hacer un llamado para ir a la huelga.
Adriana Espinosa, miembro de la  Local 26 y empleada de la limpieza de ABM contratada para limpiar el Instituto de Artes de Minneapolis (the Arts Institute), recalcó por qué votó “si” para dar su autorización para ir a la huelga por las prácticas laborales injustas y por el salario mínimo de $15.00 que los empleados de la limpieza han propuesto ya que esto ayudaría a familias como la suya y traería cambios positivos ya que nuestro estado está enfrentando una desigualdad racial y económica terrible.
“Yo voté para autorizar la huelga por las prácticas laborarles injustas porque yo trabajo con jornada de medio tiempo y gano $13.16 la hora, pero muchos de mis compañeros y compañeras de trabajo apenas ganan $11.00 la hora.  Nosotros trabajamos increíblemente duro, y un salario mínimo de $15.00 la hora significaría mas estabilidad para mi familia y nos permitiría vivir en vez de sólo tratar de poder sobrevivir. Sabemos que si los salarios de todos los trabajadores de la limpieza suben a $15.00 la hora, esto resultaría en que cada año miles de millones de dólares ingresarían a las comunidades de todas las áreas de las Ciudades Gemelas. Los empleados de la limpieza de la Local 26 en su mayoría son personas de color, lo que quiere decir que si hay aumentos justos para los empleado de la limpieza, esos ingresos regresarían a las áreas que por largo tiempo se han quedado atrás económicamente y ayudarían a que la economía suba para todos nosotros,” dijo Espinoza. “Cuando la familias ganan lo justo y tienen beneficios decentes, esto ayuda a mejorar a toda la comunidad. Ganar un contrato justo ayudará a todas las familias de la Local 26, pero también podría ayudar a ganar impulso a la vez que luchamos para disminuir la brecha de la desigualdad racial y económica en nuestro estado.”

DSC_0411 2

Otro problema que los empleados de la limpieza han presentado en la mesa de negociaciones, y que ha sido ignorado y no ha sido reconocido por los empleadores, ha sido el volumen de trabajo que sigue aumentado para los empleados de la limpieza.  Muchos trabajadores de las Ciudades Gemelas limpian un equivalente de más de 20 casas por noche cada día. Elia Starkweather trabaja en la limpieza y es miembro de la Local 26, ella está subcontratada para limpiar el edificio Ameriprise en Minneapolis. Ella ha visto con sus propios ojos el aumento del volumen de trabajo, ha visto que el personal ha disminuido y ella tanto tomo su familia sufren por la presión que sigue aumentado para cumplir con todo el trabajo.
“Yo voté para autorizar la huelga por las prácticas laborales injustas porque nuestros empleadores están poniéndole trabas a las propuestas que les hemos presentado las cuales afectan directamente nuestra salud y nuestra posibilidad de poder disfrutar tiempo con nuestras familias.  Estamos haciendo más y más trabajo por menos y menos, al igual que para muchos que viven en Minnesota, a nosotros se nos pone bajo una presión intensa cada noche. Yo limpio un equivalente de más de 20 casas por noche, y eso hizo que me lesionara y eso me duele pues no puedo jugar con mis hijos cuando salgo de trabajar,” dijo Starkweather. “Esto está pasando en todos lados y no está nada bien. Nosotros trabajamos duro y hacemos un buen trabajo, pero estamos luchando para poder tener un volumen de trabajo razonable que nos permita vivir y no solo para poder tratar de sobrevivir. Si nuestros empleadores no quieren tener una conversación real para componer este problema, vamos a tener que ponernos en huelga.”
Junto al grupo de más de 500 trabajadores de la limpieza hubo otros que apoyaron como la Vicegobernadora Tina Smith, quien compartió con los trabajadores de la limpieza palabras de aliento y los elogió por su voto para ira a la huelga y por dirigir la lucha para ayudar a movilizar para que nuestro estado camine en una dirección más justa y más equitativa. “El Gobernador y yo apoyamos su lucha porque sabemos que a veces tenemos que luchar para que se nos trate justamente,” dijo la Vicegobernadora Smith, al dirigirse a los empleados de la limpieza antes del voto para autorizar al Comité de Negociaciones para ir a la huelga por las prácticas laborales injustas.
Los trabajadores de la limpieza han estado negociando con sus empleadores desde octubre y su Contrato Colectivo de Condiciones de Trabajo venció el 31 de diciembre.
Los medios de comunicación cubrieron el evento

Star Tribune - Twin Cities janitors authorize strike if no pact reached by Feb. 14

Workday Minnesota - Twin Cities janitors authorize strike

Pioneer Press - Twin Cities janitors’ union votes to authorize strike if contract isn’t reached soon

Kare 11 - Twin Cities janitors authorize strike vote

CBS - Local SEIU Votes To Strike If Contract Isn’t Reached By Feb. 14

 AP - Twin Cities janitors authorize strike if no contract reached

 

###

SEIU Local 26 es el Sindicato de Trabajadores de Servicios a las Propiedades conocido en inglés como Minnesota’s Property Services Union, agrupa a más de 6,000 trabajadores de la limpieza, de la seguridad y a los trabajadores de la limpieza de ventanas en el área metropolitana de las Ciudades Gemelas. SEIU agrupa a nivel nacional a más de 225,000 trabajadores de los servicios incluyendo a más de dos millones de trabajadores de la salud y del sector público.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Membership Vote – July 26!

The Leadership Assembly ratified the proposed plan for 2014, and created a subcommittee to propose a specific increase in our revenue. This subcommittee presented its proposal back to the stewards on June 14th.The full membership  vote over this proposal to make our union stronger by increasing our revenue, will be July 26th.  Details on the proposal were mailed to all members, and you can get more information by  talking to your steward, or come to the union hall at 706 1st Street N, Minneapolis.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Proposals for 2014 Leadership Assembly


Katra

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Affordable Care Act and Open Enrollment

Affordable Care Act and Open Enrollment

Our annual open enrollment period is here and runs now through October 31, 2013. This is the time when all eligible full time employees can enroll or make changes to their healthcare plan. This year, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there are understandably a lot more questions and confusion than in previous years. We’d like to help make this process as easy as possible, so here’s some information you need to know.

Remember, due to healthcare reform, all adults are required to have health insurance coverage by 01/01/14!

For most Local 26 members, the easiest to obtain and most affordable coverage available will be the union healthcare plan. If you are already enrolled, and don’t need to make any changes or add any dependents to your plan, you do not need to complete a new enrollment form. You coverage will simply continue into the next year with the new benefit improvements included.

Benefit Improvements:

·         Elimination of the annual cap on medical insurance: The current $100,000 calendar year benefit maximum is replaced with an “unlimited” benefit maximum. The rest of the medical insurance plan (through Cigna) will remain the same.

·         Elimination of the annual cap on prescription drugs: The current $5,000 calendar year benefit maximum is replaced with an “unlimited” benefit maximum. The rest of the prescription drug benefit (through Caremark/CVS) will remain the same.

·         Improved Dental: The current plan pays for services on a “fixed schedule” basis, often leaving us with big bills. The new plan (through Delta Dental) will pay for services on a “percentage” basis, which means less out of pocket costs for you.

·         Vision coverage included: The current plan offers no vision coverage, but starting in 2014 the new benefit for vision care (through Cigna Vision) will include a yearly exam and new glasses or contact lenses once a year.

If you are not currently enrolled, all eligible full time employees should have received an enrollment packet by 10/01/13. If you have not received an enrollment packet, please call the union hall at 855-265-6225.  Your enrollment form must be completed and returned to your company’s human resources department no later than 10/31/13.

Part-time workers, spouses, and others not covered on the union plan: Our union healthcare plan will not offer coverage for part-time workers or spouses, so it is important for you to learn about coverage options available through the “healthcare exchange” which may have subsidies available to help afford the necessary coverage. These and other options will be discussed at our upcoming healthcare fair.

Union Healthcare Fair:If you have any questions about the healthcare benefits through our union, or if you want to sign up for new state programs which may cover part-time workers and spouses who are not covered by our union healthcare plan, come to our Local 26 Healthcare Fair. Saturday October 19: 10am-6pm, Sunday October 20: 12pm-3pm, and Monday October 21: 6am-6pm. The location will be our Local 26 Union Hall located at 706 1st St N, Minneapolis, MN. Please contact Barbara Zeiss 202-730-7548 or Barbara.Zeiss@seiufunds.org or the Local 26 hall at 855-265-6225 if you have any questions about your health care benefits.

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

No More Unreasonable Workload !!

 Excessive workload is a common problem throughout the janitorial industry. After negotiating 3 contracts we finally won new language that helps us fight against excessive workloads imposed on our members. Winning workload cases is never easy and we know it will always be a fight to achieve reasonable workloads, but this new language has given us a strong tool that has already helped us in several cases Thanks to members working together.in February we won new language in our union contracts that give us the right to demand a “workload review and walkthrough” with a union steward at our buildings.  In April we began training 40 stewards on how to do “walkthroughs”, but the companies tried to stall.  In response, workers and stewards organized, signed petitions, filed grievances and charges with the federal government.  As a result of the building pressure, in the last two weeks we got our first “walkthroughs” and some real victories on workload:

    HARVARD-5th St Towers: This was our first use of the new language, and after a walkthrough of 8 hours, followed by a negotiation between the company and the steward, the janitor won a reduction of a whole floor (equal to about an hour and a half each night).

·SBM-Medtronic: the company announced it would make a series of workload increases, but when the workers all requested “walk throughs”, the company decided to withdraw its proposed changes.

·    ABLE-Washington Square: workers got the company to postpone changes for three months, and job descriptions in English, Spanish and French.

·     ABM-La Salle: the company assigned 20 more hours per week to the building to help the janitors there, after a meeting with the steward and management.

·      ABM-Normandale Lakes: In a meeting with workers, the company agreed to remove 45 minutes of work from a janitor (half the bathrooms on one of his floors).

·      ABM-Best Buy: the workers got ABM to reduce the frequency of vacuuming and recycling to once every two weeks.  They also won an amnesty (no workload disciplines for two months after the change), and detailed colored maps and written descriptions of their jobs.

·         Marsden-Retek: Janitors are pushing the company to add 16 hours of help each week to the building                                                         

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

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 (more…)

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

This Is Your Victory !!

On Friday, over 100 of our elected bargaining committee members met with both security and janitorial companies, before our deadline for a new contract. After more than 31 hours of marathon negotiations through the night, the janitorial companies agreed to a great new contract including:

  • - $1.20 raise over 3 years (50 cents, 35 cents, 35 cents)
  • - Protected full time jobs (the companies had proposed to make more than 1000 jobs into part time)
  • - Improvements in our healthcare benefits (individual coverage at $35/mo, and individual plus kids $150/mo, and elimination of annual maximums for pharmacy and inpatient care)
  • - More sick days and improved vacation accrual, disability pay, grievance procedure.

Next Step :

Ratification Vote This is a big step forward for office janitors! As a result of the tentative agreement, our strike is cancelled, and we will have the member ratification vote this Saturday, March 2nd, 11am at the Local 26 hall. Find out more about the ratification event here.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Five Years Ago, Security Officers in SEIU Local 26 Struck and Won! Now it is our turn.

“Our manager told us we would lose our job if we struck. But we went on strike and every single officer went back to work.” ,Dawn McCarthy, American Security, 180 E 5th St

“I hear the janitor’s bosses are using the same old scare tactics they tried with security officers. Don’t believe them! We struck and we won” ,Kim Martini, Securitas, US Bank

“We had a terrible healthcare plan, that left us with big bills, but after we struck, we won a new healthcare plan that doesn’t leave us with huge bills.”,John Graham, Security, Ameriprise

“I hope that janitors will decide to stand up like we did. Everyone at my building struck, and we won.”,Renita Whicker, ABM US Bancorp

“I hope that janitors will decide to stand up like we did. Everyone at my building struck, and we won.” ,Renita Whicker, ABM US Bancorp

"I work for American /Marsden. At my building we all went on strike, and we won a great contract.” ,Howard Worley, American Security, Town Square

“I saw the letter ABM gave to janitors. They gave us almost exactly the same letter, trying to scare us, but we stood together, struck, and won.” Tommy Covington, ABM Security, US Bancorp

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Strike vote set for Feb 9th

Our bargaining committee unanimously recommends a YES vote. 

Below are questions and answers about a strike over Unfair Labor Practices:

  • Why is our bargaining committee recommending that we vote yes for a strike? Our bargaining committees, made up of over 100 of our co-workers, have been negotiating for new union contracts since November. The companies have refused to agree to many of the same standards that janitors and security officers in other cities already receive.  Instead of bargaining in good faith, in many cases the companies have stalled, proposed to move us backwards, and tried to intimidate our members.  Our elected bargaining committee unanimously recommends a YES vote for a one to two day strike to stop these unfair labor practices.
  • Who decides if we strike?  We are a democratic union.  The first step is the membership must vote to give authorization to our bargaining committee to call a strike.  This membership vote is set for February 9th, see details below.  If the membership votes yes, then the second step is the bargaining committee will decide if and when it is necessary to call a strike, and decide the date.
  • Can I be fired for participating in a strike?  It is our right to strike under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.  It is illegal for our employer to replace us permanently, fire, or discipline us for participating in a strike over unfair labor practices.
  • What should I do if my manager says we will loose our jobs if we strike or picket?It is illegal for your manager to threaten to fire or discipline you for striking or picketing.  Please report any threats immediately to your steward or the union hall.
  • Our Union contract expired on January 1st.  Are we still protected by the union?  Yes, we are still part of the union.  Even though the contract has expired, by law, all of the wages, benefits and working conditions in our contract must remain the same until the bargaining process is completed.  This means that we cannot be fired or disciplined unjustly.  If your manager tries to cut your hours or change your working conditions, you must report it immediately to your steward or the union hall.
  • Can I be disciplined for talking about the union or the strike?:  No, it is illegal for your manager to discipline you or treat you differently for talking about the union or the strike.  If you are allowed to discuss family matters or sports or the weather at work, then you can discuss the union.
  • Have janitors or security officers struck before?  Yes, Janitors across the country, including Chicago and Houston, struck and won major improvements.  Five years ago in the Twin cities, security officers in the same buildings where we work went on a one day strike and won 50 cent raises.  At the end of these strikes, the workers all came back to work and no one lost their job.
Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

VOTE SI a la HUELGA! 23 de enero

VOTE YES for the STRIKE! January 23

December Bargaining Update

Noticias de diciembre

Local 26 – Our History

Contract Convention– For Our Dreams!!

CONTRACT CONVENTION OCT 10!