2-day strike underway for FirstService Residential apartment, condo workers

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Workers at some Twin Cities apartments and condominiums are on the picket line Friday morning for a two-day strike.

The employees are pushing to join the SEIU Local 26 union, as well as for better working conditions and pay from FirstService Residential.

Union workers, mostly made up of custodians and desk workers at seven major condominiums in the Twin Cities, arrived at the picket line Friday morning in downtown Minneapolis at 1200 On The Mall.

Last month, they voted to authorize a strike after things started to heat up in June and set a deadline of Oct. 11 for First Service Residential to take action.

Workers say that didn’t happen, adding the employer refused to meet with workers Thursday, which led to Friday’s strike. Many workers say they haven’t seen a raise this year, despite rising rent.

They’re asking for FirstService Residential to increase pay to give them a better life, and to also help keep good workers on the jobs.

A resident at the River Towers showed up at a recent news conference to voice his support for the workers.

“The safety is a big concern. The concern was very great and that we are very much on our own. We’re not provided very much assistance or backup. I could just walk down the street here and stock shelves at Target for more money starting that I’m making as a supervisor now,” said Ramala Shelton, a desk attendant supervisor or 1200 On The Mall.

Workers will be out on the picket lines again Saturday.

FirstService Residential provided the following statement regarding the protests:

SEIU Local 26 has no legal standing to represent the employees of FirstService Residential Minnesota under the law. Back in May, SEIU Local 26 contacted us to make a proposal to waive our employees’ rights to vote on union representation through procedures established by the National Labor Relations Board, which we will not agree to. Since then, SEIU Local 26 has resorted to pressure tactics, including inaccurate media statements and today’s protests, of which only a small number of employees participated. Our company will continue to comply with the law and encourage employees to ask questions and obtain the information necessary from sources they trust to make employment decisions that are right for them and their families.

FirstService Residential Minnesota

FirstService Residential manages the following properties:

  • 1200 On The Mall
  • Centre Village
  • Grant Park Condos
  • Bridgewater
  • The River Towers
  • Riverview
  • Gallery Tower

This strike is the most recent in a long line of worker’s strikes that have happened this year.

Strikes began in March, when teachers in the Minneapolis School District went on a 14-day strike.

Workers at an Amazon facility in Shakopee staged a one-day walkout in April.

RELATED: Shakopee Amazon workers protest wages, lack of time off for Eid holiday

As previously reported, mental health workers for M-Health Fairview and Allina both held a one-day strike back in May, and some of those same workers at Allina also held a three-day strike earlier this month.

Last month, 15,000 nurses within MNA walked out for three days.

RELATED: Minnesota nurses return to work Thursday following 3-day strike

Meanwhile, service workers at the University of Minnesota plan to go on strike next week if they fail to reach an agreement for higher wages. As 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reported earlier this week, a strike authorization vote passed by a 93% margin.

On a nation-wide level, a nationwide railroad strike could still happen – all 12 railroad unions must approve the contract to avoid a strike. So far, six smaller railroad unions have approved their agreements, but nearly one-third of rail workers won’t vote until next month.

RELATED: Quality of life concerns weigh heavily on rail contract vote

Check back for updates in this developing story.