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OSHA Upholds ‘Serious Violations’ Regarding Dangerous Working Conditions Brought Forward By Retail Cleaners Employed by Carlson Building Maintenance

Violations indicating health and safety concerns found in Target stores all across the Twin Cities

Minneapolis (July 8, 2013) —Retail cleaning workers have received word that 8 cases of “serious violations” brought forward earlier this year were all confirmed valid by the Minnesota Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) after the employer, Carlson Building Maintenance, withdrew their notice of contest.

According to OSHA, “a serious violation shall be deemed to exist in a place of employment if there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a conditions which exists.” The workers who brought forward the issues work for Carlson to clean Target stores in West St. Paul, Shakopee, Oakdale, Fridley, Crystal, Woodbury, Bloomington and Coon Rapids. Workers filed charges as members of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a workers center based in the Twin Cities.

“I have worked for Carlson for almost a year, and I had never gotten a safety training, until recently after we filed OSHA complaints. Why would it take OSHA finding serious violations of health and safety standards for us to be able to be safe in our workplace?” Maricela Flores, CTUL member and employee of Carlson Building Maintenance.

The workers went on a one-day Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) strike in February and a larger, two-day ULP strike in June to ensure their right to organize without fear of retaliation, joining a nationwide movement of low-wage workers taking similar actions in Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, New York City and Milwaukee. The group also sent workers to the Target shareholder meeting in Denver on June12 to raise awareness about the conditions of sub-contracted employees.

Workers and allies will be coming together again on July 24 to draw attention to their low pay and poor working conditions.

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Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL)

CTUL is a low-wage worker led organization based in the Twin Cities that is organizing for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace for all workers.

www.ctul.net

Contact:  Brian Payne, CTUL, brian@ctul.net 612-859-5750 or Josh Keller, jkeller@mnfaireconomy.org

 

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Cleaning contractor among those involved in forthcoming strike deadline for Twin Cities Retail Janitors

ST. PAUL (June 6, 2013) — As retail cleaning workers throughout the Twin Cities prepare for a potential strike next week, one of the cleaning contractors involved faces eight serious violations of health and safety standards.

In January 2013, retail janitors who work for Carlson Building Maintenance cleaning Target stores in the Twin Cities metro area filed charges with the Minnesota Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) alleging violations of federal and state health and safety standards. Workers filed charges as members of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a workers center based in the Twin Cities.

In February OSHA found eight instances of “serious violations” of health and safety standards at Carlson, placing 24 janitors in danger of serious physical harm. According to OSHA, “a serious violation shall be deemed to exist in a place of employment if there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a condition which exists.”

“Instead of addressing these serious safety concerns, Carlson has chosen an expensive litigious route by contesting the findings,” said Brian Payne, an organizer with CTUL. “In addition, Carlson is refusing to allow workers to have a voice at the table by attempting to prevent workers’ representatives from participating in negotiations about resolving these issues.”

Those workers, along with others who clean Target and other stores in the Twin Cities are poised to walk off the job at 5:00 p.m. Monday unless company representatives agree to engage in substantial negotiations. Later today, retail cleaning workers will stand in solidarity with striking Walmart workers who are part of a national movement of low-wage worker strikes. Minnesota’s Walmart solidarity will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Midway Walmart store (1450 University Ave W, Saint Paul).

Should the retail cleaning workers strike, they will join other low-wage workers throughout the country who have taken similar action including fast food workers in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, New York City and Milwaukee.

The group has set the deadline for 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 10 for retail cleaning contactors like Carlson Building Maintenance, Eurest Services, Diversified Maintenance Systems and Prestige Maintenance USA to open dialogue with the workers regarding the right to organize without fear of retaliation.

Should the companies not agree to the worker’s request by the deadline, the workers have agreed to strike to ensure their right to organize without fear of retaliation, which could occur at any time following the deadline. In such a strike, workers will walk off the job, conducting what is believed to be the second-known strike of retail cleaning workers who clean Target stores in the company’s history. The first happened in Minneapolis in February.

 

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Cleaning contractor among those involved in forthcoming strike deadline for Twin Cities Retail Janitors

ST. PAUL (June 6, 2013) — As retail cleaning workers throughout the Twin Cities prepare for a potential strike next week, one of the cleaning contractors involved faces eight serious violations of health and safety standards.

In January 2013, retail janitors who work for Carlson Building Maintenance cleaning Target stores in the Twin Cities metro area filed charges with the Minnesota Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) alleging violations of federal and state health and safety standards. Workers filed charges as members of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a workers center based in the Twin Cities.

In February OSHA found eight instances of “serious violations” of health and safety standards at Carlson, placing 24 janitors in danger of serious physical harm. According to OSHA, “a serious violation shall be deemed to exist in a place of employment if there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a condition which exists.”

“Instead of addressing these serious safety concerns, Carlson has chosen an expensive litigious route by contesting the findings,” said Brian Payne, an organizer with CTUL. “In addition, Carlson is refusing to allow workers to have a voice at the table by attempting to prevent workers’ representatives from participating in negotiations about resolving these issues.”

Those workers, along with others who clean Target and other stores in the Twin Cities are poised to walk off the job at 5:00 p.m. Monday unless company representatives agree to engage in substantial negotiations. Later today, retail cleaning workers will stand in solidarity with striking Walmart workers who are part of a national movement of low-wage worker strikes. Minnesota’s Walmart solidarity will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Midway Walmart store (1450 University Ave W, Saint Paul).

Should the retail cleaning workers strike, they will join other low-wage workers throughout the country who have taken similar action including fast food workers in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, New York City and Milwaukee.

The group has set the deadline for 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 10 for retail cleaning contactors like Carlson Building Maintenance, Eurest Services, Diversified Maintenance Systems and Prestige Maintenance USA to open dialogue with the workers regarding the right to organize without fear of retaliation.

Should the companies not agree to the worker’s request by the deadline, the workers have agreed to strike to ensure their right to organize without fear of retaliation, which could occur at any time following the deadline. In such a strike, workers will walk off the job, conducting what is believed to be the second-known strike of retail cleaning workers who clean Target stores in the company’s history. The first happened in Minneapolis in February.

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Cleaning contractor among those involved in forthcoming strike deadline for Twin Cities Retail Janitors

ST. PAUL (June 6, 2013) — A former employee of Eurest Services has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that the cleaning contractor failed to pay him overtime and wages for hours worked. William Wissbaum of Coon Rapids filed the complaint on May 22, 2013. A case similar to Wissbaum’s was filed in a Missouri court in January 2013, where the plaintiff alleges that he too was denied overtime benefits called for by federal law. According to court records, there are several ongoing lawsuits against the company around the country alleging violations of federal labor law.

In the local complaint, Wissbaum states that he was employed by Eurest for a period of five months before resigning on April 28, 2013. For approximately 12 weeks, Wissbaum worked an average of 70 hours per week at 10 dollars an hour. However, his biweekly pay only reflected approximately 40 hours a week, with one check paying Wissbaum for six hours of overtime in a two week period. He also states that he is owed pay for the nine hours he worked on his last day of employment with the contractor. Wissbaum estimates in the complaint that he is owed $4,690 of unpaid hourly and overtime wages.

Pennsylvania-based Eurest Services operates as a retail-cleaning contractor in the Twin Cities market. Retail janitors who clean Target and other stores through contractors including Eurest have set a deadline for 5:00 p.m. on Monday for the companies to open dialogue between them and the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a Minneapolis workers center that has been organizing the workers for three years. If the deadline is not met, the workers will walk off the job in an Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) strike.

Should the workers strike, they will join other low-wage workers throughout the country who have taken similar action including fast food workers in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, New York City and Milwaukee.

Wissbaum is not the first employee of Eurest Services to come forward with allegations of wage theft and other issues. Between 2009 and 2013, there have been at least 21 instances of OSHA violations involving employees of the company, leading to over $40,000 in fines. Additionally, there are several ongoing lawsuits against the company alleging violations of minimum wage and overtime laws. One of the cases (Garibaldi v. Compass Group USA, Eurest Services, et. al) is seeking class status with potential back wages and damages of over $5 million.

“William’s story is not unique. Since the last strike in February, we believe that workers’ rights have continued to be violated,” said Brian Payne, an organizer with CTUL. “We continue to hope that the cleaning companies will agree to meet with workers and CTUL about the right to organize without fear of retaliation before the forthcoming strike deadline. However, time is running out.”

The group has set the deadline for 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 10 for retail cleaning contactors like Eurest Services, Diversified Maintenance Systems, Carlson Building Maintenance and Prestige Maintenance USA to open dialogue with the workers regarding the right to organize without fear of retaliation.

Should the companies not agree to the workers’ request by the deadline, the workers have agreed to strike to ensure their right to organize without fear of retaliation, which could occur at any time following the deadline. In such a strike, workers will walk off the job, conducting what is believed to be the second-known strike of retail cleaning workers who clean Target stores in the company’s history. The first happened in Minneapolis in February.

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