Responsible Contractor Policy in Retail Cleaning
After four years of organizing marches, a 12 Day Hunger Strike, multiple strikes and more, and after a year of dialogue between Target Corporation and CTUL members, Target adopted a Responsible Contractor Policy (RCP) in the contracted cleaning of its stores in the Twin Cities metro area. Following Target’s leadership, several other large retail chains have now contracted responsible cleaning contractors including: Best Buy, Macy’s, Whole Foods and others. As of October 2016, workers have won a permanent voice in the industry by winning union representation across the majority of the industry.
While the majority of the industry is now union, one large retail janitorial company has refused to listen to workers’ voices – Kimco Services. Kimco cleans Kohl’s, JC Penney’s and Home Depot in the Twin Cities metro area. CTUL together with our allies are calling on Kohl’s to follow Target’s leadership by adopting a RCP, ensuring that the workers who clean their stores have the right to organize without fear of retaliation.
What is a Responsible Contractor Policy (RCP)?
For a RCP to have any meaning, it must include three key elements (all of which are clearly outlined in the RCP at Target Corporation):
- Worker input in the creation and enforcement of the RCP. After a year of dialogue between Target Corporation and CTUL members who clean Target stores, Target included two key measures in its RCP. Many workers complained about being forced to work seven days per week, without a single day off for personal and/or family time. Target’s RCP guarantees that no worker can be forced to work seven days per week. In addition, many workers complained that cleaning companies were not respecting their legally protected right to form safety committees made up of 50% workers who are selected by their peers. Target’s RCP guarantees this right, and creates clear mechanisms for workers to enforce this right if it is not being respected.
- Real consequences for cleaning contractors that break the law and/or violate the RCP. Target’s RCP includes clear mechanisms to end a cleaning contract before the expiration date if the company breaks the law and/or violates the RCP.
- Ensure worker voice in the long-term. Wage theft and other serious violations of workers’ rights used to be rampant in retail cleaning. The main reason wage theft could thrive in this industry is that workers were too afraid to complain. So long as the threat of being fired for any complaint looms large, wage theft and other violations of workers’ rights will thrive. Target’s RCP establishes clear mechanisms that ensure workers’ right to organize without fear of retaliation.