Twin Cities janitors planning to strike next week over wages, sick time

A union representing thousands of Twin Cities janitors are set to strike next week if an agreement can't be reached on a new contract.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, a union that represents about 4,000 commercial janitors that staff several prominent high-rises in downtown Minneapolis, on Thursday announced plans to hold a one-day strike during the week of Feb. 24. Union members say they want a contract with higher wages and more sick days, as well as a commitment to fight climate change.

SEIU officials have previously asked cleaning subcontractors to establish a "green training program," which would provide resources to help janitors reduce the environmental impact of their jobs, according to a news release.

These union members work for various subcontractors, including ABM and Marsden Services. Buildings the members clean include the IDS Center, Capella Tower, the Wells Fargo Center and several other large corporate centers in the area.

The union voted to authorize the strike earlier this month.

"We've been bargaining for months and are sick of the excuses. Some parents are working two jobs and don't have the pay and benefits to take care of our families, all while the news goes on about how strong the economy is. We want our companies to know we are serious," said George Mullins, a 30-year janitor who works for Marsden Janitorial in downtown Minneapolis. "The cost of everything – food, gas, rent – keeps going up, but our employers are offering us an even smaller raise than our last contract and won't move on other important issues. We are united and ready to win what our families deserve."

The news comes as 2,000 security officers with SEIU Local 26 won a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract late Tuesday night that featured wage increases of 14% over the next four years, in addition to other gains.

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