October 15, 2016

Twin Cities show how janitors can organize

Guardian - [The] fight began seven years ago when an immigrant workers’ center in Minneapolis – Centro Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (United Workers Center in Struggle) – contacted janitors at retail stores in the Twin Cities area. That workers’ center, known as CTUL, formed an organizing committee, led a three-mile protest march, held a 12-day hunger strike and sponsored a series of steadily expanding one-day strikes, which aimed to pressure retail powerhouses such as Target and Best Buy, both based in the Twin Cities, to give the janitors a voice at work.

The effort grew more ambitious, with its focus turning towards getting Target to adopt a Responsible Contractor Policy. Target adopted such a policy in 2014, requiring its contractors to comply with labor and wage laws, and the janitors’ focus then changed to forming a labor union, convinced that this was the best way to win better conditions.

Labor experts say this is probably the most successful effort to unionize retail store janitors in the US. “The retail janitorial industry has been overwhelmingly non-union – it was viewed by most people as ‘unorganizable’,” said Stephen Lerner, the former head of the SEIU’s Justice for Janitors Campaign, which unionized tens of thousands of office building janitors nationwide.

No comments: