Business & Economy

Twin Cities janitors reach contract agreement, averting Monday strike

SEIU Local 26 members vote to authorize strike
Members of the Service Employees International Union, which represents 4,000 Twin Cities janitors, vote to authorize a strike at SEIU Local 26 headquarters in Minneapolis on Feb. 8. A contract agreement reached on Saturday averts a planned strike.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

The union representing about 4,000 commercial janitors in the Twin Cities says it has reached a tentative contract agreement to avoid a Monday strike.

Service Employees International Union Local 26 reported that the agreement was reached after a 22-hour bargaining session with employers that ended at 7 a.m. Saturday.

The two sides had been in negotiations for months. The janitors went on a 24-hour strike last week, and had planned an open-ended strike starting on Monday.

According to the union, the tentative four-year agreement includes:

  • A wage increase of $2.20 over the course of the contract for full-time workers. Some part-time workers would see wages rise from $11.12 to $16 an hour over the four-year contract.

  • Moving all full-time workers to six paid sick days by the second year of the contract. While the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul both have ordinances requiring employers to provide sick time, some suburban workers had not had access to sick time.

  • A reduction in the cost of health insurance for individuals and families

The union said the agreement also incorporates sexual harassment policies, and includes funding toward a green education initiative. The union had sought support for a program to certify workers in more environmentally friendly cleaning methods.

“Because we went on strike and were ready to go on an open-ended strike, we were able to win the largest wage increases we’ve seen for janitors, an increase in sick days and the exciting green education program,” Elia Starkweather, a janitor in downtown Minneapolis, said in a union news release.

The agreement covers janitors who work for more than a dozen employers, and are responsible for cleaning the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and numerous office buildings in the Twin Cities.