CTUL Receives The Advocates for Human Rights 2015 Special Recognition Award
CTUL member Hilario de Leon received the award on behalf of CTUL. Click here to read his acceptance speech.
6.9.15 Retail Janitor Strike Report
Retail janitors from over 50 stores in the Twin Cities metro area walked out on strike on 6.9.15 demanding fair wages and an end to wage theft. Just a day before the strike, CTUL published a new report about the prevalence of wage theft in the retail janitorial industry, including the class action lawsuit filed three weeks ago by employees of Capital who clean Macy’s and Herberger’s stores (“Held Up Without a Gun – Wage Theft in Minnesota’s Janitorial Industry“).
Well over 250 striking workers and community allies joined the picket line from 6-7:30am. Click here for a longer report from the strike. Check out more photos from the picket line: Photos by Ryan Stopera, Photos by Ryan Nelson
Following the picket line, striking janitors joined workers, faith leaders, and community leaders from around the state for an action at Best Buy Corporate HQ, calling on the company to stop blocking local and state policies that would help working families. Click here for a report of the action.
Highlights of Press (for a complete list of coverage, click here)
- “Department Store Janitors Strike in Downtown Mpls,” WCCO, June 9, 2015 (video)
- “Janitors strike wages in downtown Minneapolis,” Fox 9 News, Rachel Chazin, June 9, 2015
“I am going on strike because my employer, Capital Building Services Group, is cheating us,” Duniyo Hussein, who cleans the Macy’s at the Mall of America for CBSG, said. “$8.00 an hour is not fair for the work we do. We work hard. In the United States, no one should make such a low wage. I am going on strike so we can win fair wages and more rights at our job.”
“Held Up Without a Gun – Wage Theft in Minnesota’s Janitorial Industry” – New report highlights how backwards the retail janitorial really is. Join workers on strike demanding an end to wage theft, and calling for fair wages:
Tuesday, June 9th, 6:00 – 7:30am 700 Nicollet Mall, Downtown Minneapolis, in front of Macy’s
Janitors at Macy’s File Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Minimum Wage, Overtime Violations
(NEW: Press coverage – see below)
Workers at eight cleaning companies announced a 6/9 strike deadline, calling for companies to open dialogue to work together to end ongoing labor abuses. A strike could potentially impact the cleaning of 15 retail chains across the metro area including Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, and Sears.
This morning, janitors who clean Macy’s and Herberger’s stores in the Twin Cities metro area filed a class action lawsuit against their employer, Capital Building Services Group. According to the court filing (Hussein, et al. v. Capital Building Services Group, Inc., Case No. 0:15-cv-02498), “Capital’s violations of state and federal wage and hour laws are systematic and severe”, including:
- Minimum wage violations: “employees’ wages fall well short of minimum wage – in some cases as little as $4 or $5 an hour.”
- Overtime violations: “Employees generally are not paid overtime when they work over forty hours in a workweek.”
- Underreporting of hours worked: “Defendant systematically underreports Plaintiff’s hours worked. It is not uncommon for entire shifts to disappear.”
Janitors who work for seven other cleaning companies stood with the Capital workers to announce a June 9th strike deadline. Stay tuned for more details about the lawsuit and the strike deadline announcement…
- “Macy’s, Herberger’s Janitors Say They’re Paid Only $5 An Hour,” Susan Du, City Pages, May 26, 2015
- “Janitors sue retail cleaning company in federal court, to protest today,” Adam Belz, Star Tribune, May 20, 2015
- “Janitors working at MN Macy’s and Herberger’s sue over wages,” Marty Moylan, MPR News, May 20, 2015
- “Retail store cleaners file class action lawsuit, set strike date,” Michael Moore, May 21, 2015
Get on the Bus!
McDonalds Shareholder meeting Action!
Chicago – May 19-21.
On April 15th, over 1,500 striking fast food workers, retail janitors, airport workers, university workers, students and community allies took to the streets in the Twin Cities demanding $15 an hour and union rights.
And now they are bringing the fight to the McDonald’s doorstep!
Join thousands of fast food workers from across the country in bringing the fight to McDonalds’ doorstep at their annual shareholder meeting.
For more information, contact
Isaac Martín email@example.com // 612.520.1326
Meals and lodging will be provided!
In the morning, Lucila stood with workers who complain of unpaid wages in the sub-contracted cleaning of Walgreens and other stores. Later that evening she received top honors from the Saint Paul Foundation for her anti-racism work, organizing with low-wage workers of color for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace.
“Low-wage workers of color who are members of CTUL, like myself, are stepping up. We refuse to follow the vicious cycle of changing from job to job, stuck in a system of economic, social and racial inequity. Instead, we are working to change the jobs where we are, proactively working to build healthy communities for everyone. Target Corporation has demonstrated interest in following the leadership of low-wage workers of color. We are calling on Best Buy and other Minnesotan corporations to step up as well so that together we can establish economic, social and racial equity for all Minnesotans.”
“St. Paul Anti-Racism Leaders’ Humble Roots,” Susan Du, City Pages, April 27, 2015.
This is our moment…
“This is our moment — we are going to change service jobs from ones that drag our economy down into ones that lift up workers, families and communities,” said Carmela Palacios, Burger King employee and member of CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle. “Fast-food workers are joining together and standing up for what’s right, and standing with so many people working in a variety of industries, we are stronger than ever. I know we will win.” “Fast food workers shut down Minneapolis intersection,” Barb Kucera, WorkDay Minnesota, April 15, 2015
Click here for a report with lots of photos from the 4.15 actions
We work for corporations that generate tremendous profits, but don’t pay employees enough to cover basic needs like food, health care, rent, and transportation. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Stand with workers on April 15 for $15 and Union Rights!
Unity Rally & March, April 15, 4:30 – 6:30 PM. Meet at UofM, march to Dinkytown McD
On April 15th tens of thousands of low-wage workers across the country will join striking fast food workers in the biggest mobilization to date in the Fight for $15. In the Twin Cities, striking fast fast food will be joined by university workers,retail workers, airport employees, home healthcare workers and more, all standing up to their employers demand $15/hour and union rights. Workers are also calling for municipal policies in Minneapolis for $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, fair scheduling and an end to wage theft.
Meet at Northrop Mall, University of Minnesota (84 Church St SE, Mpls) & March to Dinkytown McD’s (407 15th Ave SE). Click here to RSVP on Facebook.
Fast Food Strike Action, April 15, 5:30am. McDonald’s at Lake and 2nd in South Mpls
Stand with striking fast food workers who are demanding $15 and union rights. Location TBA
Best Buy Delegation, April 14, 11am. Location TBA.
Through its leadership in the Minnesota Business Partnership, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and Minnesota Retailers Association, Best Buy is lobbying for policies that benefit big corporations and the wealthiest Minnesotans, while keeping working families impoverished. Join CTUL and ISAIAH on Tuesday, April 14 to tell Best Buy that we demand an end to its corporate greed. Location TBA.
In building towards April 15th, CTUL members and allies have been leading numerous actions.
April 2 McDonald’s Workers Respond to “Raise”
On April 1st, only one day after fast food workers announced a strike for April 15, McDonald’s announced that they were raising wages for workers. Turns out the “raise” is incredibly small, and only impacts around 10% of McDonald’s workers. CTUL members who work at McDonald’s led a press conference to respond.
- “Fast Food Workers Plan Another Protest at Uptown McDonald’s This Afternoon,” Ben Johnson, City Pages, April 2
- “McDonald’s pay rise gets mixed reviews,” Boua Xiong, Kare 11 News, April 2
- “Labor Issues to Pressure McDonald’s Despite Pay Bump,” ABC Channel 5 News, April 2
March 31 Fast Food Strike Announcement
“April 15 we’re going on strike, all together, united for a better future,” Blanca Gonzalez, CTUL member, McDonald’s worker. Fast food workers, airport workers, and home healthcare workers united to announce the April 15 fast food strike, and the call for $15 and union rights.
- “Fast-food workers to rally on April 15 for $15 an hour,” Mike Hughlett, Star Tribune, March 31, 2015
- “Service Workers Intend to Strike on Tax Day Over Wages,” WCCA CBS News, March 31, 2015
- “Twin Cities fast food workers plan April 15 strike,” Union Advocate, March 31, 2015 (includes video)
- “Slower Fast Food on Tax Day? Nationwide Strike to Hit Twin Cities,” The Uptake, March 31, 2015 (includes video)
March 28, Worker gathering to prep for April 15
Fast food workers, retail janitors, airport workers, university workers, bank workers, and retail workers gathered to share organizing strategies and plan for April 15th.
6 teams, 12 stores, 2 companies, 1 message: Best Buy and Kohl’s, stop lobbying against paid sick leave an increases in the minimum wage!
March 18 Fast Food Worker Action
CTUL members who work in fast food and allies led an action as part of a national day of action with fast food workers, protesting the overwhelming number of burns in the workplace and the lack of proper first aid for burns.
Workers report that management at the Uptown McDonald’s has promised raises for many months but has not followed through, and that many workers have had to work shifts alone. CTUL members led a delegation to speak with the manager on March 17, backed by a crew of allies including around a dozen high school students from Stillwater and Northfield, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), and 15 Now Minnesota
Dozens of CTUL members and allies led delegations to the Roseville Best Buy and Kohl’s stores, calling on the companies to play a leadership role in strengthening basic worker protections for working Minnesotan families.
Long-time CTUL ally U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison has invited Veronica Mendez, as a representative of CTUL and low-wage workers in Minnesota, to President Barack Obama’s sixth State of the Union. Click here for more
“Yesterday the radio was filled with speeches from the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today I will stand beside the first African-American to be elected to the House of Representatives from Minnesota listening to a speech from the first African-American President of the United States. While I am honored, I go with a conflicted heart…” – Veronica Mendez Moore (click here to read the entire statement)
“Rep. Keith Ellison on Obama’s Push to Sign TPP & Seek Authority to Expand War in Iraq & Syria,” Democracy Now!, Jan. 21, 2015 (fast forward to minute 22:30 to hear mention of CTUL)
“Progressive lawmakers invite advocates of low-wage workers to State of the Union speech,” Josh Hicks, Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2015
“Rep. Keith Ellison’s Low-wage Worker Organizer SOTU Guest: ‘I go with a conflicted heart,'” Veronica Mendez, In These Times, Jan. 20, 2015.
Sunday, Feb. 15th, 11am-2pm, 2511 E. Franklin Ave. (inside of Bethany Lutheran Church)
Join us for food, fun, updates on campaigns, and to meet the CTUL members who are leading the fight for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace.
Suggested donation of $5 (student / low-income) to $15 at the door for all you can eat pancakes, egg bakes, coffee and more.
The Times They Are A-Changing…
- “Cleaning company signs agreement with janitors, SEIU” Adam Belz, Star Tribune, 12/11/14 (also in Bloomberg Businessweek)
- “Report Says Future of Low Paid Workers is Bleak” Bill Hudson, WCCO CBS News, 12/11/14
For over four years, retail janitors have struggled to change a backwards industry rampant with poverty wages, wage theft, dangerous working conditions, lack of benefits, etc. Workers have organized with CTUL, leading marches, strikes and more. Now Target Corporation has created a Responsible Contractor Policy in the contracted cleaning of its stores; and just last week, two days before the Black Friday Strike for Our Lives, one of the largest retail janitorial companies in the Twin Cities, Kellermeyer Bergenson’s Services (KBS), signed an agreement with SEIU that respects the rights of workers to organize, preventing strikes from taking place at stores cleaned directly by the company.
Despite the fact that Target Corporation has taken a leadership role in the industry by creating the Responsible Contractor Policy, one of the companies that currently cleans Target stores – Prestige Maintenance USA – has not taken the policy seriously. Many workers are still forced to work seven days a week, and the company has not engaged in sincere dialogue to address issues of poverty wages and poor working conditions. Because of wages and working conditions, janitors who work for contracted companies cleaning Target stores participated in the Black Friday strike.
Following the KBS agreement and the Black Friday strike, Target Corporation put out a public statement about the contracted cleaning of its stores: “We are very pleased by the progress that some vendors have made and continue to strongly encourage other vendors that haven’t made similar progress to come to the table with SEIU and CTUL and work together in good faith.” In the statement, Target emphasized that “to the extent our vendors fail to do so we will hold them accountable.”
The times, they are a-changing…workers are calling for change, the broader community is calling for change, Target Corporation is calling for change, KBS is calling for change…it’s time for Prestige and other retail janitorial companies to catch up to the times! Click here for more detailed information.
#StrikeFastFood Rocks the Twin Cities
Picture by The Union Advocate
Thousands of fast food workers in over 190 cities around the country walked out on strike on December 4th, demanding $15 and union rights. Here in the Twin Cities, over 400 workers and community allies braved the cold for two actions at 6am and noon. Click here for a full report.
CTUL member Guillermo Lindsay in CBS MoneyWatch: “I’d rather live than survive. What about you?” Click the link below for the entire article, and click here for local coverage.
“Fast-food nation: Workers stage nationwide protests,” Bruce Kennedy, CBS MoneyWatch, Dec. 4, 2014
“Strike for Our Lives” 11.28.14
Retail janitors who work for contracted companies cleaning large stores like Home Depot, Sears, Kohl’s and others walked out on strike today at over 50 stores in the Twin Cities, demanding fair wages and the right to organize. Hundreds of allies stood with workers in the freezing cold for three hours. Click here for more pictures from the picket line.
Recently, Target Corporation committed to play a leadership role by implementing the industry’s first Responsible Contractor Policy. Yet, the companies that clean Target stores are not only ignoring workers’ voices, they are also ignoring Target by not respecting the new Responsible Contractor Policy. Workers still report having to work seven days a week, ongoing sub-poverty wages that take a toll on workers’ health, and no clear path to ensure workers’ voices. Since these and other large cleaning companies continue to pay poverty wages and refuse to take workers seriously, workers at four cleaning companies walked out on strike: Prestige Maintenance USA, Carlson Building Maintenace, Kimco Services and Diversified Maintenance Systems.
- “Workers Strike on Black Friday,” KSTP Channel 5, Nov. 28.
- “Some MN Workeres Strike on Black Friday,” ABC News, Channel 6, Nov. 28.
- Minnesota News Round Up, Pierce County Herald, Nov. 28.
- Short YouTube video by 99 Pickets: “CTUL #blackfriday strike“
- “They toil all hours to provide holiday service,” Op-Ed by Representative Ryan Winkler in the Star Tribune, Nov. 27.
- “Unions plan Black Friday strike to kick off series of protests,” Star Tribune, Adam Belz, Nov. 26.
Black Friday Week of Action
“Fighting to Live, Not Just Survive!”
“They toil all hours to provide holiday service,” Op-Ed by Representative Ryan Winkler in the Star Tribune, Nov. 27
So this Thanksgiving, we owe Minnesota’s low-wage workers a debt of gratitude for making our favorite holiday celebrations possible. We should also thank them for reminding us that our economy needs to change and that it can change, if people speak up and start demanding better. We should support the low-wage workers who are standing up for all of us
- Friday, November 28, 6am. “Strike for Our Lives“: Retail janitors with CTUL have set a Black Friday strike deadline. Picket 6-9am, The Quarry, 1520 New Brighton Blvd., Mpls
- Thursday, December 4, 6am and noon. Fast Food Actions. Join fast food workers with CTUL and home health care workers with SEIU HCMN in the Fight for $15. Meet outside of Walker Library in Uptown (2880 Hennepin Ave, Mpls) at 6am; 34th and Nicollet at noon.
Donate to the Retail Janitor Strike Fund
Background: The Minnesota Department of Health recently published a report on poverty and health in the state, highlighting the fact that Minnesotans who live in areas with the highest median household income live an average of 8 years longer than those who live in areas with the lowest median household incomes. According to the report: “The growing economic inequities and the persistence of health disparities in our great state are a matter of life and death for many.”
This holiday season, low-wage workers from across the state of Minnesota are fighting to take back the years that companies are stealing off working families’ lives. Stand with retail janitors and fast food workers with CTUL, Walmart workers with OUR Walmart, airport workers with 15 Now, home health care workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, the fight for paid sick days with Take Action Minnesota, and other low-wage workers from across the state of Minnesota who are joining together through Minnesotans for a Fair Economy (MFE) for a Black Friday Week of Action, November 28 – December 5, 2014:
Black Friday Week of Action:
- Friday, November 28, 6am. Retail Janitor “Strike for Our Lives“: Retail janitors with CTUL have set a Black Friday strike deadline. Picket 6-9am, The Quarry, 1520 New Brighton Blvd., Mpls
- Friday, November 28, 10am. “March for Our Lives”. Take Action Minnesota together with striking Walmart workers from OUR Walmart are leading a mass march demanding paid sick days. Meet at University Ave. & N. Griggs St., St. Paul.
- Saturday, November 29, 7pm. “Food Chains”, a new film about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). At the end of the film there will be a panel discussion including a worker from the CIW and CTUL.
- Tuesday, December 2, 4pm. Greater MN Worker Center Community Action stand in solidarity and THANK Retail and Meat Packing Workers for their hard work this season and to acknowledge their year-round battle for fair employment opportunities. 4PM 4101 W Division St. St. Cloud, MN 56301 Crossroads Mall. 4:45PM 113 Waite Ave S. St. Cloud, MN 56301 Cashwise Foods
- Thursday, December 4, 6am. Fast Food Actions. Join fast food workers with CTUL and home health care workers with SEIU HCMN in the Fight for $15. Meet outside of Walker Library in Uptown (2880 Hennepin Ave, Mpls) at 6am.
- Thursday, December 4, 12pm. Fast Food Actions Round 2! Meet at 34th and Nicollet at noon.
- Wednesday, December 5, 12pm. Working America and Take Action MN Release of Report on Low-Wage Worker Struggles Poverty-Wage Jobs. Report details data around Earned Sick Days, Wage Theft, Unfair Scheduling and more. 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55155 – Room 181 State Office Bldg
- Friday, December 5, 12pm. Airport workers’ 15 Now Rally for $15/hour and a Union. Support MSP International Airport Workers who are organizing with SEIU Local 26, 15 NOW and IAM as they join the national fight for $15 and their right to a union. Meet at the Terminal 1 Ticketing Drop off Area at 12:00 PM
Retail Janitors Set Black Friday Strike Deadline
Over 100 workers and community allies braved the cold to join the announcement of a strike deadline with retail janitors outside of the Home Depot in Richfield. Last June, after a series of meetings with CTUL and workers, Target Corporation created a Responsible Contractor Policy that ensures that companies contracted to clean Target stores will open dialogue with workers to improve working standards in the industry. Since the announcement, the two companies that clean Target stores and a third company that cleans other stores in the Twin Cities have all opened dialogue, yet they have not seemed to take workers’ concerns seriously. Other cleaning companies have refused to talk at all.
We are fighting to live, not just survive!
“We will no longer sit back quietly as cleaning companies steal years off of our lives and the lives of our families by paying poverty wages. On Black Friday, we will ‘Strike for Our Lives’ against all of the cleaning companies that refuse to respect our right to organize without fear of retaliation,” — Maricela Flores, retail janitor and CTUL member.
- “Twin Cities retail janitors threaten to strike on Black Friday,” Star Tribune, Adam Belz, November 11, 2014.
- “Twin Cities retail janitors announce Black Friday strike deadline,” Workday Minnesota, Howard Kling, November 11, 2014.
- “Janitors Threaten Strike Against Big Box Retailers On Black Friday,” The UpTake, Bill Sorem, November 11, 2014.
CTUL is a low-wage worker-led organization that is fighting for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace for all workers in the Twin Cities metro area. Currently CTUL is leading three campaigns:
- Campaign for Justice in Retail Cleaning: Over the past 10-15 years, wages and working conditions in retail cleaning have spiraled out of control, with constantly lowering wages and increasing workloads. After four years of organizing, including three strikes against cleaning companies in 2013, workers have won significant changes in the industry. Most recently, after a year of dialogue between Target Corporation, CTUL and retail janitors, Target is taking a leadership role in the industry by adopting new language in an unprecedented Responsible Contractor Policy. Click here for more information on the campaign.
- Fast Food Campaign: Fast food workers in the Twin Cities are organizing with CTUL as part of the national Fight for $15 and the right to a union. Click here for more information on the campaign, including a report on workers’ first strike in the Twin Cities on September 4, 2014.
- Defensores de Derechos / Workplace Rights Defenders: Low-wage workers participate in a series of four in-depth workshops on workplace rights and how to document violations of workplace rights. After participating in four workshops workers form the Defensores Committee, which will facilitate workshops with other workers and will gather information to publish a report in September 2015 on low-wage work in the Twin Cities. Come back soon for more information on Defensores.
What an incredible day! Fast food workers across the country are rising, demanding fair wages and working conditions. Click here for a full report on the fast food strike here in the Twin Cities organized by CTUL, including photos, press coverage, videos and more…
After four years of organizing including leading three strikes against cleaning companies in 2013, and a year of dialogue between Target Corporation, CTUL and retail janitors, Target is taking a leadership role in the industry by adopting new language in an unprecedented Responsible Contractor Policy that will be implemented for new cleaning contracts at their stores. The policy is the first of its kind nationally in the industry. CTUL is now calling on every other major retail stores to follow Target’s leadership by adopting the same Responsible Contractor Policy, including:
- Protecting and ensuring workers’ rights to collectively bargain with their employers;
- Ensuring that workers have the right to form safety committees in the workplace made up of at least 50% workers who are designated by their co-workers; and
- Ensuring that workers are not forced to work seven days a week.
This victory paves the way for workers to gain fair wages, benefits, and a voice in the workplace, and has implications that move well beyond the estimated 1,000 retail janitors in the Twin Cities, opening the door to ensure that low-wage workers of color have a place at the table in deciding the future of work. Fundamentally this is part of CTUL’s vision of empowering low-wage workers to play a leadership role in reorganizing the economy to ensure that it works for everyone, not just the 1%.
- CTUL’s analysis of the victory
- Statements of support for workers with this victory from U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, National Guestworker Alliance, Janice Fine, and many more.
- CTUL Video about the victory
- Photos and Report from Victory Press Conference
- “Target Adopts ‘Breakthrough’ Policy for Janitors,” Kare 11 News, Lindsey Seavert, June 10, 2014
“The janitors who clean Twin Cities Target stores announced victory today, after the retailer agreed to a new policy that will give the workers better conditions, including the right to collectively bargain, and ensure workers are not forced to work seven days a week.”
- “Target Bends to Labor, Tells Contractors to Meet with Unions,” Bloomberg Businessweek, Josh Eidelson, June 12, 2014
“…a strong core of leaders in the industry, who have gone on three strikes…that’s the mechanism of enforcement.”
- “Janitors at Target stores to see new protections in contracts,” MPR, Tom Weber, June 10, 2014
And in case you missed the reports of previous actions…
Video from Labor Education Services:
What a day! Hundreds of workers and community allies made it through the freezing cold for four and a half hours on a picket line with striking retail janitors this morning. Click here for pictures from the picket.