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Twin Cities store cleaners threaten strike

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Twin Cities store cleaners say they've set a deadline for talks with the maintenance companies that employ them and threaten a strike if they can't negotiate.

Brian Payne, an organizer with the Centers for Workers United in Struggle, says a group of the workers are threatening to walk off the job Feb. 28, in response to what they say is resistance to forming a cleaners union.

"We're setting a deadline calling on the companies to sit down and meet with workers and open sincere dialogue about the harassment that workers have been feeling and about broader issues, so that workers have their rights protected," he said.

Payne says the strike would be against what he calls unfair labor practices by three companies that clean many big box retail stores. He says the union would push for better working conditions and better wages for as many as 1,000 cleaners that work in Twin Cities stores like Target and Best Buy.

A spokeswoman for one of the cleaning firms, Diversified Maintenance, Andrea Kiehl, said they do not believe many of their custodians would support the work stoppage and that the company will provide service to its customers even if some employees walk off their jobs.