DFL Gov. Mark Dayton told several hundred janitors, security officers, airport service workers and retail cleaners on Saturday that they won't get the wages they deserve unless they negotiate for it.
Dayton, who spoke at the SEIU Local 26's Contract Convention in St. Paul, said the role of unions is under attack.
"I wouldn't have believed 40 years ago, when I graduated from college, that we would be in this kind of situation in this country, where some of the basic foundational principals and the institutions were under the kind of assault that they are. But they are," Dayton said. "So your willingness to go to bat for you, for your fellow employees, for your families, for your communities is what's going to turn the tide."
At the convention, SEIU member Veronica Mendez translated for department store cleaner Blanca Jimenez of Minneapolis, who said the recent election that put Democrats in control of the Minnesota House and Senate gives her hope.
"I think it means that each of us will actually get to have a voice, and if we have a voice, then we can make it happen," Jimenez said, as translated by Mendez.
In the next few weeks service workers are scheduled to negotiate several contracts that expire Dec. 31. The union wants to expand agreements to encompass suburban workers and people employed by subcontractors.
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