CTUL “Ghost” Employee Press Conference Report
On Halloween, members of CTUL and community allies dressed as ghosts for a press conference in front of the Lake Street Kmart, bringing to public light an ongoing conditional class action lawsuit against Diversified Maintenance Systems (DMS), a company that is contracted to clean Kmart, Sears, Target, Best Buy, and other stores.
According to the original lawsuit, at least twelve DMS employees in the Twin Cities allegedly worked 56-60 hours per week, and had to use “ghost employee” timecards to avoid being paid overtime hours. The conditional class action lawsuit potentially opens the case to hundreds of current and former DMS employees who cleaned around 130 Kmart, Sears, Target, Best Buy and other stores throughout the Midwest.
Several retail cleaning workers joined the press conference, calling for fair wages and working conditions in the industry. “There are a lot of injustices against us. We came here seeking dreams, but we have only found nightmares. We have to work two jobs to earn enough to survive, and we don’t have time for our families. Our work only makes the bosses dreams come true. We want to achieve our dreams by winning respect and dignity at work,” Blanca Jimenez, CTUL member.
Many “ghosts” showed up for the press conference, calling attention to the allegations in the lawsuit that DMS “consistently required the Plaintiffs [workers] to record their overtime hours under the name of a ghost employee” (page 8 of lawsuit).
We were also joined by lots of press, including KARE 11, AM 950, Workday Minnesota, and others.
This gentleman also joined the press conference, Dan Burton of Court Videographer Services, Inc, paid by an unrevealed source to film a group of ghosts who are talking about workplace justice. Mr. Burton insisted many times that he was unsure of exactly who was paying him to be there. Any guesses as to who would want to send a videographer to tape workers who are standing up for their rights?
A representative of DMS sent an email to CTUL the day before the press conference, claiming that DMS is always open to communicating directly with employees regarding concerns, but that she is unaware of any outstanding issues faced by DMS Minnesota employees. Yet, over half a year ago workers turned in petition signatures of over half of the DMS workforce in the Twin Cities metro area requesting a meeting to discuss changes in working conditions to ensure fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace.
Workers are tired of excuses. Seeing no positive response to the multiple calls for dialogue, workers have decided that on Black Friday we will bring this issue to the broader public, educating the community about the poor conditions reported by workers at Diversified Maintenance.