Retail cleaners recover over $400,000 through lawsuit

Non-union janitors who are sub-contracted to clean Macy’s and Herberger’s stores announced a settlement Tuesday for $425,000 in back wages and damages as part of a class action lawsuit against Capital Building Services Group.

The announcement comes as the workers, members of the Twin Cities worker center CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle, prepare for a strike on Thursday.

In addition to the money, the settlement includes injunctive relief, ensuring that all employees will get paystubs and will have the option to get paid by check, CTUL said.

Workers filed the suit last May.

“By uniting together my co-workers and I have won a big victory,” said Jesus Sanchez, CTUL member and a plaintiff in the suit. “But we shouldn’t be forced to sue our employer to be paid for hours that we already worked.

“Wage theft is an all too common problem for retail janitors. We don’t need a band-aid. We need a cure. And that cure is a voice on the job, union rights, and $15 an hour. My co-workers and I are prepared to strike on Feb. 18 if Capital refuses to enter into sincere dialogue about these issues.”

Wage theft continues to be a major problem for retail janitors who clean profitable and well-known retail chains in the Twin Cities like Macy’s, Lunds & Byerly’s, Sears, Kohl’s and others, according to CTUL.

Recent cases include:

  • A 2015 lawsuit against Kimco Services, settled for an undisclosed amount, involving workers who cleaned Kohl’s and other stores and complained of having to work up to 35 unpaid hours per week.
  • A 2013 settlement for $675,000 in a class action suit against Diversified Maintenance Systems by janitors who cleaned Sears, Best Buy and other stores in the Twin Cities.
  • A 2008 finding by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Minneapolis District Office that National Floor Maintenance had not paid the required overtime to more than 100 workers cleaning Lunds & Byerly’s stores in the Twin Cities.

Janitors who participated in the class action lawsuit will join others in a 24-hour strike, starting Wednesday evening, CTUL said. Workers and community allies will gather from 6 to 7 a.m. Thursday outside of the Macy’s store at 700 Nicollet Ave. in downtown Minneapolis.

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