Twin Cities retail janitors, security guards announce March 4 strike as bargaining bogs down

Thousands of commercial and retail janitors, as well as security guards, may strike across the Twin Cities metro on March 4.

Members of Service Employees International Union Local 26, which is based in Minneapolis, announced the potential strike date ahead of scheduled bargaining for the janitorial sector, raising the stakes if agreements with major employers are not reached.

Close to 1,000 subcontracted security and janitorial workers in St. Paul with expired contracts could join the strikes next Monday, according to SEIU Local 26 President Greg Nammacher.

A majority of the Minneapolis City Council and all seven members of the St. Paul City Council signed letters of support for fair contracts, according to SEIU, and St. Paul Council President Mitra Jalali shared remarks at a press event in Minneapolis on Monday morning. She was joined there by St. Paul Council Member Nelsie Yang, as well as Minneapolis Council Members Katie Cashman and Jason Chavez.

Members of SEIU Local 26 voted this month to authorize an “unfair labor practice” or ULP strike for nearly 8,000 workers, many of whom clean big box stores. Bargaining began last fall and has spanned multiple sessions.

Major sticking points include higher wages and retirement benefits, Nammacher said, though the local has also been advocating for de-escalation training for security guards on the frontline of encounters with homeless residents downtown, as well as training in environmentally-sustainable “green cleaning” janitorial practices such as energy conservation.

The contracts span 10 unions operating throughout the seven-county metro area, including passenger service workers who clean airplane cabins and push wheelchairs at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

About 300 non-unionized janitors and security guards who service condominium buildings may join the strikers “sometime in March,” according to a social media post from organizers on Monday.

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