Tentative Agreement Reached. Strike Cancelled.

After four months of negotiations, culminating in a marathon 22-hour bargaining session that ended at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, the 4,000 commercial janitors with SEIU Local 26 reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with their employers that averted an open-ended strike that was set to begin Monday. 

The full details of the TA is currently being shared with members, but highlights of the 4-year agreement include:

  • Wage increases of $2.20 over the course of the contract for full time workers, with some part time workers going from $11.12 to $16 over the life of the contract
  • Moving all full-time workers to six paid sick days by the second year of the contract
  • Won funding towards a Labor-Management Cooperation Fund that will work towards a green education initiative
  • Reduces cost of health insurance for individuals and families
  • Incorporates sexual harassment policies into contract

Elia Starkweather, a janitor in downtown Minneapolis and one of the hundreds of janitors who took part in the bargaining, shared how proud janitors were to stick together and win such a strong contract. 

“I am so proud we stuck together and won these important gains. Because we went on strike and were ready to go on an open-ended strike, we were able to win the largest wage increases we’ve seen for janitors, an increase in sick days and the exciting green education program,” said Starkweather. “Our campaign slogan was ‘Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow,’ and I believe because we were so united we really were able to win an agreement that will build a better tomorrow for thousands of janitors, our families and our planet.”

The 4,000 commercial janitors join the 2,000 security officers who won a strong contract in February. That means 6,000 of the 8,000 SEIU Local 26 members have now settled their contracts, leaving retail janitors and airport passenger service workers as the two biggest groups still working to reach deals. 

The TA came a week after the janitors went on a 24-hour ULP strike that included a huge rally in Minneapolis with environmental allies before picketing and rallying at the MSP Airport. The janitorial workers are employed by over a dozen different subcontractors like ABM & Marsden to clean the MSP Airport along with corporate office buildings like IDS, Capella Tower, EcoLab, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, United Health Group, Ameriprise and many more across the Twin Cities.

Filiberto Nolasco Gomez is a former union organizer and former editor of Minneapolis based Workday Minnesota, the first online labor news publication in the state. Filiberto focused on longform and investigative journalism. He has covered topics including prison labor, labor trafficking, and union fights in the Twin Cities.

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