Thousands of downtown Minneapolis essential workers to strike if no contract deal reached
About 8,000 various janitors, security officers, retailers and more could walk off the job next month, leaving places like the skyways without workers to maintain them.
Hundreds of members of SEIU Local 26 voted to strike if fair labor agreements are not reached with a wide range of businesses and property owners by March 2.
“The people at the top need to come down and meet us halfway, at least look at us as human beings,” said Terry Freeman, a security officer fighting for better working conditions. “They make this job so unfair and unsafe for people to beat us.”
Workers are also demanding retirement benefits and wage increases of up to $5 an hour. Currently, members are making anywhere between $14.50 to $20 per hour.
“Inflation has been at least 17% in the last three, four years and the proposals that the employers are bringing are significantly below that,” said Greg Nammacher, SEIU Local 26 president.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison also stood alongside workers Saturday in support of what he calls fair contracts.
“We are not separated, we are united,” he said.
Should a strike begin, downtown Minneapolis buildings will not be cleaned, sanitized or protected.
“If they lose us, I mean, the managers got to pick up more work,” said Freeman.
The union says members, who are mostly people of color and immigrants, hope they’ll no longer be invisible to employers.
“These beautiful downtowns and office buildings all over the Twin Cities just wouldn’t be able to operate without us doing this work every single night,” said Nammacher.
The union also says they are pushing the Minneapolis City Council to create a Labor Standards Board this year to help establish standard working conditions.