Retail Janitors Strike against Trump and Poverty Wages
“We are trying to put a stop to the poverty wages…Donald Trump, he supports these low wages and he has said that he doesn’t think workers deserve better wages,” Luciano Balbuena,CTUL member and striking retail janitor, quoted in the New York Times this morning.
Hours before Donald Trump’s Inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, retail janitors organizing with CTUL who are contracted to clean more than a dozen Home Depot and other stores in the Twin Cities went out on strike against their cleaning contractor to protest their poverty wages and Donald Trump’s anti-worker agenda – the first strike against Donald Trump in the country since his election. The workers and supporters numbered hundreds as they picketed outside of the Home Depot at the Quarry in Northeast Minneapolis, chanting and holding a giant banner that says “On Strike Against Trump and Poverty Wages.”
January 20, 2017 – Inauguration Day – Now more than ever it is time to act…
On January 20, Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day, janitors who clean Home Depot stores in the Twin Cities will go on strike against their cleaning contractor to protest their poverty wages and Donald Trump’s anti-worker agenda – the first strike against Donald Trump in the country since his election.
The two founders of Home Depot have donated millions of dollars to Trump and one of Home Depot’s major investors supports Trump. Home Depot uses the Trump model of business for its janitorial services: using subcontractors that hire immigrant workers and sometimes face lawsuits for wage theft.
Janitors who clean Home Depot are paid poverty wages by their subcontractor and have been organizing for years to win fair wages and the right to form a union without retaliation. If Trump has his way, these worker’s wages will go even lower – as Trump told the country in November 2016, “wages are too high.”
Over 300 people joined an early morning action with striking fast food workers at the McDonald’s on 24th and Nicollet in South Minneapolis, where 21 striking fast food workers and community allies were arrested in peaceful act of civil disobedience for $15 and union rights
“We are out here today on strike and risking arrest,” said Steven Suffridge, CTUL member and McDonald’s employee. “We have been organizing for a few years now and have won raises in cities all across America. Here in the Twin Cities we have won paid sick days and will continue to fight until we win $15 and a union. I am willing to be arrested today to let corporations and elected officials know that we are going to keep fighting until we win!” Photo by Patience Zalaga.
RETAIL JANITORS CAROLING IN EDEN PRAIRIE MALL: 8:00-9:00am
Retail janitors and allies marched through Eden Prarie Mall singing Christmas carols calling on Kohl’s to adopt a Responsible Contractor Policy
SOLIDARITY WITH AIRPORT WORKERS: 10:30 – 11:30am
Airport workers recently won union rights with SEIU Local 26. Here CTUL members stand with airport workers as well as newly elected MN State Representative Ilhan Omar stands to send a message that “love trumps hate.” Our communities are united and stronger than ever!
ACTION WITH FRANKLIN STREET BAKERY WORKERS: 12:00-1:00pm
CTUL stands in solidarity with Franklin Street Bakery workers demanding living wages and the right to unionize without retaliation. Their boss runs a hunger relief charity but pays his own workers so little they can’t afford nutritious food for their families.
ACTION WITH CONSTRUCTION WORKERS: 2:30pm
CTUL member Yobani speaks to fellow construction workers at a North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters action protesting payroll fraud and dangerous conditions at this nonunion job site. CTUL stands in solidarity with all workers who are fighting back against poverty wages and no voice on the job.
MASS MARCH AT UofM: 4:30-7:00pm
Over 1,000 student workers, educators and full-time university employees together with CTUL members and community allies marched from UofM to the Dinkytown McDonald’s calling for $15 and union rights in our jobs, in Minneapolis, and in all of Minnesota
After Day of Action, CTUL Calls On Kohl’s To Meet With The Workers Who Clean Their Stores And Apologize For The Violent Behavior Of Mall Security
Peaceful protesters assaulted while singing Christmas carols in Eden Prairie Mall.
Retail janitors and their community allies walked through the Eden Prairie Mall on Nov. 29 to call on Kohl’s to implement a Responsible Contractor Policy. Retail janitors and community allies showed up to the mall in the Christmas spirit wearing Santa hats, singing Christmas carols with lyrics that included their asks, and even “Santa Claus!” The holiday spirit quickly melted away when the mall security officer began to assault the peaceful carolers.
“We went to Kohl’s very peacefully and cheerfully to call on them to implement a Responsible Contractor Policy,” said Veronica Mendez – Moore, co-director of CTUL. “Shortly after entering the mall, the security officer began assaulting us, pushing people across the hallway, swinging around a drumstick taken from drummers amongst the carolers, and using the stick to hit carolers and jabbed it into my ribs. We were singing songs and walking through the mall and he began to get very aggressive. He was obviously not in the holiday spirit. Eventually the police came and escorted him to a back room and allowed us to finish our caroling as we exited, but not before the security officer pushed several members of our group and even punched someone.”
The carolers then gathered outside as “Santa” asked the retail janitors what their holiday wishes were. “A Responsible Contractor Policy would allow us the opportunity to organize for a union without retaliation,” said Luciano Balbuena, a CTUL member and retail janitor. “This would allow us the opportunity to make better wages and have the benefits we need to take care of our families. This is my Christmas wish.”
This was one of several actions workers participated in throughout the day as part of a national day of disruption. CTUL members and allies are now calling on Kohl’s to meet with the retail janitors who clean their stores in addition to an apology for the violent response from the mall security.
Workers from 10 different industries representing around a quarter of the entire workforce in the Twin Cities metro area unite in the #Fightfor15, calling on corporations and elected officials to ensure that $15 for families becomes a reality in Minneapolis and in all of Minnesota. Highlights include:
Last year Teresa Benson, a Minneapolis fast food worker and CTUL leader in the #Fightfor15, passed away. Despite working at McDonald’s for years, Teresa was homeless, had no medical care, and ultimately ended up losing her life on the streets. We cannot lose another community member! Striking workers will be joined by hundreds of community allies including U.S. Representative Keith Ellison.
For Kohl’s, the holiday season makes up for 30% of their annual sales. While corporations like Kohl’s make huge profits during the holiday season, the retail janitors who keep their stores clean struggle to survive. Join retail janitors in the call on Kohl’s to implement a Responsible Contractor Policy. This will put janitors on the path to having good paying, stable jobs, with benefits like paid sick days just like other retail janitors in the Twin Cities who recently won a union!
4:30-7:00pm, Unity March, Coffman Union at UofM, 300 Washington Ave. SE.
Student workers, full-time university workers, teachers, fast food workers, retail janitors, construction workers, retail workers, bakery workers, home healthcare workers, and airport workers unite in a march calling on corporations and elected officials to ensure that $15 for families becomes a reality in Minneapolis and all of Minnesota. The time is now!
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) is seeking applications for a full-time, two-year position as Coordinator of the Raise Workers’ Voices Campaign. This position will own the work of organizing individual donors, labor partners, and foundations to raise approximately $1.5 million in two years to take CTUL’s work to the next level. Click here for more information.
After six years of marches, strikes and more, retail janitors organizing with CTUL have won a permanent voice across the entire industry. The Twin Cities is now the first metropolitan area in the entire country where the retail janitorial industry is union.
Maricela Flores, CTUL member and retail janitor, in the Guardian about the victory: “I could have done nothing, but I chose to fight. This has been a long fight, but now I feel overjoyed. All the hard work has paid off.”
While the majority of the retail janitorial industry is now union, one company refuses to recognize workers’ right to organize: Kimco Cleaning. Kimco cleans Kohl’s, Home Depot and JC Penney in the Twin Cities.
TAKE ACTION TO STAND WITH WORKERS:
- Kimco workers are gearing up for a major action on November 29, 2016. Click below to donate now.
Today, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to pass Earned Sick and Safe Time. This historic vote comes after more than a year of leaders with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) and many other organizations fighting to win.
”Passing earned sick and safe time is a huge victory for workers and our families. Fast food workers and janitors with CTUL have been striking for the past few years for higher wages, union rights, a voice in the workplace and benefits like paid sick days and finally our city is taking a big step to help us workers and our families. We deserve to take care of our health and our families as well,” said Guillermo Lindsay, a McDonald’s worker and member of CTUL.