Press Release Capital Class Action Lawsuit

** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **

Contact: Merle Payne, CTUL, 612-859-5750, brian@ctul.net

Class Action Lawsuit Filed by Minnesotan Janitors at Macy’s Stores

Workers at eight cleaning companies set strike deadline, calling for an end to ongoing labor abuses

Minneapolis – 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.”
  • Unreimbursed expenses: “Several Capital employees are required to purchase their own cleaning supplies. Defendant does not reimburse those expenses”
  • Travel time: “Some Plaintiffs are required to clean multiple stores during one shift, or are required to report to one store and then travel to a different store to perform their work duties. Defendant does not compensate Plaintiffs for their travel time between work sites.”

Janitors who work for seven other cleaning companies stood with the Capital workers to announce a June 9th strike deadline, which could potentially impact the cleaning of dozens of retail chains across the metro area including Target, Kohl’s, Sears and others.

“It is not fair that Capital would take away part of our pay. They are taking money out of the pockets of our families,” Leticia Zuniga, member of the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), employee of Capital who cleans a Macy’s store. “We are standing with janitors from many different companies to set a strike deadline for June 9th. We are calling on cleaning companies to meet with us to explore ways to work together to ensure fair wages, fair benefits, and that workers are paid for all of the work we do.”

According to the court filing: “Companies like Capital come under enormous economic pressure to cut corners when it comes to following labor and employment laws…To undercut their competitors, and turn a profit on their contracts, companies like Capital routinely fail to pay their workers for all hours worked, pay less than minimum wage, and skimp on overtime premiums…Companies like Macy’s and Herberger’s benefit tremendously from this arrangement.”

The announcement of the lawsuit and strike deadline is the latest in a growing series of labor conflicts in the sub-contracted retail janitorial industry. In 2013 Diversified Maintenance Systems paid $675,000 to settle a class action suit brought by workers who cleaned Target, Best Buy and other stores. Earlier this year, Kimco Services / Eurest Services paid an undisclosed amount to settle a lawsuit with workers who cleaned Kohl’s and other stores, and who complained of having to work up to 35 unpaid hours per week. In addition, over the past two years, retail janitors have walked out on strike four different times. A June 2015 strike would be significantly larger, involving at least eight different cleaning companies that clean at least 15 different major retail chains.

In October 2014, after a year of dialogue between Target Corporation executives and CTUL members who work in retail cleaning, Target created a Responsible Contractor Policy regarding the contracted cleaning of its stores in the Twin Cities. Workers complain that the two companies that currently clean Target stores are not respecting the new policy, and have announced that they will join the strike if the deadline passes.

“I have worked for fourteen years in the industry, and I only make $9 an hour,” explains Jose Cabrera, CTUL member and employee of Carlson Building Maintenance who cleans a Target store. “At this pay I am forced to work a second job. This takes a huge toll on my health. I don’t have enough time to rest. I don’t have time spend with my family. Although Target created the new policy, we still have not seen necessary changes. For example, many workers still complain that they are forced to work seven days a week, in direct contradiction to Target’s Responsible Contractor Policy. We are standing up to end wage theft, and to win fair wages, fair benefits and basic respect for janitors across the industry.”

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Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) is a low-wage worker led organization that is organizing for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace for all workers in the Twin Cities metro area. www.ctul.net

 

Nichols Kaster, PLLP is filing the class action lawsuit on behalf of workers. According to the court filing, the lead attorney is Adam Hansen, 612-256-3207, ahansen@nka.com