Minneapolis, MN – On Sunday, February 24 at 1:00 p.m., SEIU Local 26 security officers will join an alliance of labor unions, faith-based organizations and community groups to learn how to protect the middle class by training for non-violent direct action and preparing for a strike against their employers over unfair labor practices.
The security officers are preparing to strike this week after negotiations with contractors ended without a contract Friday afternoon. The security officers had announced a Sunday deadline for employers to offer a fair proposal, including fair wages, access to healthcare and stable, full-time jobs—the jobs that the Twin Cities needs in order to reignite our economy. But contractors walked away from the table Friday afternoon without reaching a new agreement with workers.
Sunday they will join an alliance of labor unions, faith-based organizations and community groups who are also ready to take action as part of its Unlock our Future campaign to address economic and racial justice issues that are weakening our middle class.
The groups together represent tens of thousands of Minnesotans who have asked Minnesota’s most celebrated corporations – including U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Target – to unlock Minnesota’s future and help solve the crises that have contribute to the collapse of our economy.
SEIU Local 26 security officers join “Unlock our Future” members to learn how to protect the middle class through non-violent direct action and plan for a strike
Sunday, February 24
Minneapolis South High School
3131 19th Avenue South | Minneapolis, MN 55407
SEIU Local 26, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, ISAIAH, CTUL, TakeAction Minnesota, SEIU Local 284, Occupy Homes, Macalester Kick Wells Fargo Off Campus, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, concerned Minnesota citizens
Minneapolis, MN – This afternoon negotiations with contractors for SEIU Local 26 security officers ended without a contract, despite a Sunday deadline from workers to strike.
“It’s beyond frustrating that these companies aren’t serious about negotiating a new contract,” said Fred Anthony II, a security officer who works at EcoLab in downtown St. Paul. “They walk away, saying they aren’t willing to meet again until mid-March. They can’t be serious if they’re only willing to meet once a month. We can’t keep dragging this out. We made it clear we would stay here as late as we needed, but they’ve just walked away.”
Without a new contract, security officers will go on strike as early as Monday.
Negotiations continue, however, for janitors, who are prepared to stay the whole night to win a new contract. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association has said they’re willing to stay as late as it takes to negotiate a new contract before the Sunday deadline workers set. SEIU Local 26 janitors have said they will also go on strike as early as Monday if they do not win a new contract by Sunday.
“We have to do whatever it takes to win a fair contract,” said Brahim Kone, a janitor at Flint Hills Refinery. “Our lives and our families are at stake. We want to create and expand jobs to grow the middle class. We want to be able to support our families. To do that, we can’t accept the cuts our employers have proposed. We must win a contract that helps move us all forward.”
A new contract would represent the first important victory in a planned “Unlock Our Future” week of action being coordinated by an alliance of labor unions, faith-based organizations and community groups.
Just this week the groups sent a joint letter to the heads of U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Target urging the corporations to do their part to resolve the crisis impacting Minnesota’s middle class—immediately. They set a deadline for Sunday, February 24 at noon.
SEIU Local 26 workers going on strike will join members of these organizations Sunday at 1:00 p.m. to start planning for their strike.
“There’s a lot at stake,” said Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26. “For the more than 6,000 workers affected by these contracts, this is about stable, full-time jobs, about being able to provide for their families without public assistance. The corporate elite – U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Target – are all enjoying success, and it’s time for the workers to succeed too.”
Separate contracts for janitors and security officers expired simultaneously on December 31 – since then, more than 6,000 workers throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan have been working without a contract. Janitors and security officers work side-by-side, cleaning and protecting property for contractors at some of Minnesota’s richest corporations.
Minneapolis, MN – Today bargaining committees representing SEIU Local 26 janitors and security officers head back to the table with their employers in a last-ditch effort to negotiate a fair contract that would improve 6,000 jobs in the Twin Cities. The workers voted to approve a strike earlier this month, and just this week announced Sunday as the deadline to win new contracts before going on strike.
“We’re ready and willing to negotiate,” said Alfredo Estrada, a janitor at the Minnesota Center. “We’ll be here as late as it takes to negotiate a fair contract. We have sleeping bags and pillows and we’re ready to talk through the night to make sure that hard work gets rewarded in Minnesota again.”
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association have told Local 26 they are also prepared to stay as late as it takes. Initial proposals from the janitorial employers included cutting more than 1,200 full-time positions, which would eliminate employer-based insurance benefits and outsource employers’ healthcare costs to Minnesota taxpayers—without the consent or knowledge of the public.
“Employers need to take their responsibility seriously,” said Brahim Kone, a janitor at Flint Hills refinery. “We look forward to finding an agreement that allows us to work our way into the middle class and move the entire community forward.”
Security employers, however, have said they will only negotiate until 4:00 p.m.
“The employers have offered nothing but cuts – cuts to wages, cuts to full-time positions, cuts to healthcare benefits. It feels like yet another attack on the middle class,” said Paul Keith, a security officer who works at the Retek building downtown.
“They want to move us backward, destroying and eliminating jobs for the middle class. And to make it worse, they don’t seem committed to negotiating a new contract. After today, they aren’t willing to meet again for bargaining until mid-March. One or two days a month is all they are willing to give us. We set a deadline because we need to show them that we can’t let this continue dragging out.”
A new contract would represent the first important victory in a planned “Unlock Our Future” week of action being coordinated by members of Minnesota community, student, environmental, and labor groups.
Just this week these groups–including ISAIAH, TakeAction Minnesota, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en La Lucha, a Minneapolis workers’ center), SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, and SEIU Local 284—sent a joint letter to the heads of U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Target urging the corporations to do their part to resolve the crisis impacting Minnesota’s middle class—immediately.
Barring substantial action on improving housing, state revenue, banking practices, schools and jobs by Sunday, February 24 at noon, members of these organizations are vowing direct, dramatic, citizen action beginning Monday.
“There’s a lot at stake today,” said Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26. “For the more than 6,000 workers affected by these contracts, this is about stable, full-time jobs, about being able to provide for their families without public assistance. The corporate elite – U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Target – are all enjoying success, and it’s time for the workers—the profit providers—to succeed too.”
Separate contracts for janitors and security officers expired simultaneously on December 31 – since then, more than 6,000 workers throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan have been working without a contract. Janitors and security officers work side-by-side, cleaning and protect property for contractors at some of Minnesota’s richest corporations.
“We’ve made it clear that if we don’t have a contract coming out of these negotiations, we’re hitting the streets,” said Fred Anthony II, a security officer who works at the EcoLab building in downtown St. Paul. “It’s time for these companies to show some leadership and help solve the crises in our communities to unlock our future. Let’s be partners for progress. Let’s put the interest of the community first. We’re ready and willing to bargain – let’s get this done today.”
SEIU Local 26 members representing more than 6,000 workers through Twin Cities metro call for corporate elite to unlock their future
Minneapolis, MN – More than 500 janitors and security officers who clean and protect property for the richest corporations in Minnesota today voted to walk off the job over proposed cuts to full-time positions, living wages and health care and in protest of the employers’ unfair labor practices. Today’s vote authorizing both the janitors’ and security officers’ bargaining committees to call for a strike if necessary means that workers representing more than 6,000 janitors throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul and the suburbs could call for a strike at any time.
“If my job was cut to part-time, it would be like suicide,” said Brahim Kone, a janitor at Flint Hills refinery. “I make just enough money now to pay the bills for my wife and my two children. I fear if my wages were cut, I would lose my home. We can not accept cuts that move us backward and push us into poverty – we must move forward.”
“We need access to health care that covers our families,” said Gene Worley, a security officer at Town Square in downtown St. Paul. “I’m not asking for free health care, just something I can afford which covers my family would help. Real family coverage – employee, spouse, children. “
For the first time ever in the Twin Cities, contracts for janitors and security officers with SEIU Local 26 expired simultaneously on December 31. Despite months of bargaining, employers continue giving workers the runaround, bargaining in bad faith by refusing to show up to negotiations and offering proposals full of cuts. Security contractors have proposed moving hundreds of positions to part-time, eliminating all benefits and access to health care. Janitorial contractors are proposing cuts to more than 50 percent of janitors, with cuts as high as 40 percent for many members. For many workers, health coverage for their family would cost around $700 a month.
“Without access to affordable family health insurance, I have to ask the state to get my family on a public health plan,” said Alfredo Estrada, a janitor at the Minnesota Center. “I don’t want to have to ask the state to support my family; I would like to care for my family myself. “
“As a janitor, I work around a lot of strong chemicals, so health insurance is really important,” said Kone. “But I need better healthcare for my family. Right now, I can’t afford to pay for family insurance through my employer. I would give them my whole check for that!”
The average full-time janitor qualifies for public assistance, including health care programs, due to wages just above the poverty line and a lack of access to affordable health care.
“When the rich, corporate elite shirk their responsibility that they have had to provide health care, the burden falls on the public,” said Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26. “This is just another example of the richest corporations refusing to pay their fair share and asking the taxpayers to subsidize the costs of doing business. These workers clean and protect the wealthiest corporations like Target, Wells Fargo and US Bank, yet they’re too poor to even shop at Target or have money for a savings account with Wells Fargo or US Bank.”
U.S. Representative Keith Ellison joined members and an array of labor, community and religious leaders to call for employers to help workers move forward through living wages.
All of us together can be powerful if we insist on dignity,” said Congressman Ellison, “if we stand together, and if we fight for working families here in solidarity with workers everywhere.”
CTUL, a workers center that supports non-union workers in retail stores also showed their support for Local 26 members.
“You clean and protect the office towers, the headquarters for the corporate elite,” said Veronica Mendez. “Our members are cleaning the retail stores for those same companies. Target will continue to use us against one another unless we are willing to stand together. Today we say to you – as you prepare to strike, we are prepared to stand with you. Together, we will unlock a better future.”
“We have bargained in good faith, and have sent forth a fair, beneficial proposal,” said Worley. “But have received unrealistic counter offers when any have been offered to begin with. This cannot be allowed to continue. Now is the time to draw our line in the sand and call out all our brethren to do what we must to win a fair working contract. Now is the time to make our stand. Our ways of life are at stake, and the future of our families hang in the balance.”
Workers skirting poverty ask wealthy CEOs to help their families move forward
Minneapolis, MN – Just before CEOs from Minnesota’s wealthiest corporations gathered for an annual luncheon celebrating their successes, janitors and security officers who clean and protect their buildings stood down the hall at the Hilton Minneapolis to discuss their fight for a fair contract.
“As security officers, we take care of these elite companies – we just want to know that the companies are going to take care of us in return,” said Fred Anthony II. Anthony works as a security officer in the EcoLab headquarters in downtown St. Paul for a security contractor company. “I see Doug Baker nearly every day. He seems like a good guy, and I know he appreciates the work I do. But he makes more than $10 million a year – that’s nearly 400 times more what I make. Yet the contractors are talking about the workers needing to make sacrifices.”
Ecolab CEO Doug Baker was honored with the Executive of the Year award at the Business Journal Executive of the Year luncheon, which is co-sponsored by US Bank.
“I clean the buildings for some of the richest corporation in our state, said Alfredo Estrada, a Local 26 janitor. “I ensure that each day, employees come to our building and are able to do their best work without worrying about whether the building will be clean or not. The rich, corporate elite here today are celebrating their corporate leadership – will they live up to that leadership and tell their contractors to give us the living wages and affordable healthcare we need to support our families?”
“The corporate elite in this state – US Bank, Target, Wells Fargo – make their profits in part because of the work of the people in their buildings, including SEIU Local 26 members,” said Javier Morillo, SEIU Local 26 President. “I’m happy to see the success of these CEOs, but we need to recognize they stand on the shoulders of a lot of people, including janitors, security officers, taxpayers, teachers, everybody. They need to be recognized, too.”
For the first time ever, Local 26 contracts covering more than 6,000 janitors and security officers expired at the same time. Workers have been negotiating in good faith for months, yet the employers continue bargaining in bad faith.
“A federal mediator has been called in, but we’ve still gotten nowhere,” said Anthony. “Employers are proposing eliminating huge groups of workers from union membership and moving hundreds of full-time workers to part-time hours. This would cut access to benefits like healthcare and sick time.”
Local 26 will hold back-to-back strike votes Saturday morning at the Minneapolis Convention Center over unfair labor practices to authorize a strike among members. They have started raising money for a strike fund and are circulating petitions with workers.
“We don’t want to strike, we just want to come to work and know that we can continue supporting our families,” said Estrada. He and his wife have two daughters. “But our employers don’t want to negotiate in good faith. They’re leaving us with no other option. Together, we will stand strong and unlock a better future for Minnesota.”
Federal mediator called in, but still no progress on contracts for more than 6,000 workers with SEIU Local 26
Minneapolis, MN – On Tuesday, February 5 at 10:45 a.m. members of Local 26 will gather at the Hilton Minneapolis to discuss the upcoming back-to-back strike votes for more than 6,000 janitors and security officers.
The workers will speak just before the Business Journal Executive of the Year luncheon, where EcoLab CEO Doug Baker will receive the Executive of the Year award. A janitor and security officer who work in the EcoLab buildings will discuss their efforts to negotiate a fair contract to move workers forward.
As the corporate elite – EcoLab, US Bank, Target, Wells Fargo – gather to celebrate their success, more than 6,000 janitors and security officers who work for contractors in their buildings are working without a contract. They are fighting for living wages and affordable healthcare to support their families and unlock a better future for Minnesota.
Negotiations so far have yielded little progress. A federal mediator has been called in, yet still the contractors will not bargain in good faith. Local 26 has called for back-to-back strike votes on February 9th.
Twin Cities Janitors, Security Officers Prepare for Back-to-Back Strike Votes
Tuesday, February 5
Hilton Minneapolis | Room Marquette 1
1001 Marquette Avenue | Minneapolis 55403
Local 26 security officer from EcoLab contractor
Local 26 janitor from EcoLab contractor
Javier Morillo – SEIU Local 26 President
Janitors and security officers from bargaining committees will hold large signs with the names of buildings they clean and protect
Local Civil, Immigrants and Labor Rights Groups Announce Coalition to Support President’s Immigration plan
Saint Paul, MN – Civil, immigrants, and labor rights leaders representing a broad range of Minnesotans gathered today at the State Capitol to unveil a Minnesota mobilization campaign to support commonsense immigration reform. This comes just a day after President Obama announced his plan for immigration reform.
“We are a nation of immigrants who all do our part to (more…)
Contact: Kate Brickman, Media Relations Coordinator
Phone Number: 612-460-1219
Local Civil, Immigrants and Labor Rights Groups Respond to President’s Immigration Speech
Mobilization Campaign for Commonsense Immigration Reform Begins
Saint Paul, MN – On Wednesday, January 30 at 12:30 p.m., local civil, immigrants and labor rights leaders will come together at the State Capitol to stand in support of President Obama’s legislative proposal for immigration reform.
Congressman Keith Ellison will join SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo and other local leaders in unveiling their united campaign to call on Congress to pass commonsense immigration reform in 2013. The groups will announce plans to contact lawmakers and hold rallies in April across the nation, leading up to a mass demonstration on April 10 at the U.S. Capitol, where tens of thousands of marchers will gather.
National polls demonstrate an across-the-aisle support for a real and lasting solution to repair the country’s immigration system. As immigration reform rises to the top of the Obama Administration’s legislative agenda, 2013 is undoubtedly the year for Congress to pass a commonsense immigration reform with a clear roadmap to citizenship.
Local leaders respond to President’s Immigration Speech
Wednesday, January 30
Room 125, Minnesota State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King JR. Blvd | St. Paul, MN
Congressman Keith Ellison
Javier Morillo – President, SEIU Local 26
Leaders from Asembleas de Derechos Civiles, Centro Campesino, ISAIAH, Latino Communications Network, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, MN Immigrant Law Center, SEIU Healthcare MN, SEIU MN State Council, UFCS Local 1189
More than 6,000 janitors and security officers march with their allies after bargaining committees call for a strike vote
Minneapolis, MN – After months of dealing with bad bargaining by employers, Twin Cities janitors and security officers have set a date for a strike vote. Today members of SEIU Local 26 began circulating strike petitions for a vote scheduled for February 9.
“We’ve tried to bargain in good faith,” said Demetruis Moore, a member of the bargaining committee who’s worked as a security officer for more than five years. “But it’s clear they have no intention of doing so. Either come to the table and bargain in good faith, or we’re done. (more…)