MINNEAPOLIS (PAI) — Retail janitors who are sub-contracted to clean Best Buy, Macys, Lund’s, Target and other stores in the Twin Cities metropolitan area finalized a first contract with their employers on this past Wednesday.
The workers engaged in a multi-year fight that saw them go on multiple 24-hour strikes to organize the first industry-wide union of big box janitors in a major metropolitan area.
Their organizing began through a Minneapolis-based worker center, CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle. The janitors are now members of Service Employees Local 26.
Gains include more than $4.5 million in wage increases and paid time off over the life of the contract for the nearly 500 workers covered by bargaining, the union said. Retail janitors will see an average wage increase of 18 percent over three years, with many janitors seeing an immediate $1.50 hourly raise.
The vast majority of the janitors are people of color.
“The gains won in this contract are the private sector stimulus that Trump and his billionaire cabinet promised, but workers delivered on for themselves,” Local 26’s news release said.
Lizbet Vega Lopez, employed by Carlson to clean the Cub Foods in Brooklyn Park for 12 years, is one of the many workers seeing an immediate raise from $9.50 to $11 per hour.
“This was not an easy fight, but I am so glad we stuck together and now have a union contract that moves us forward. I hope others will see our fight and realize that no matter how difficult the challenge may be, you can win positive changes if you are willing to stand up to those in power,” said Lopez, a mother of three.
In addition to wage increases and paid time off, workers also won one to three weeks’ vacation, depending on experience, stronger workplace protections and job security and guidelines for workload conditions when covering absences. The contract goes into effect immediately and will last three years.