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Janitors' union pickets in downtown Minneapolis, 11 cited for trespassing

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Twin Cities janitors pushing for higher wages and more sick time rallied in a downtown Minneapolis office tower Thursday evening, leading police to ticket 11 of them for trespassing, activists say.

According to WCCO, 4,000 janitors represented by the Service Employees International Union have been working without a contract since December. The custodians work for cleaning companies hired by the owners of many Twin Cities office buildings.

One of the aims of Thursday's protest, the station says, was to pressure the companies whose names are on those office towers to intervene in the labor dispute. The demonstrators occupied the atrium of U.S. Bank Plaza.

The union wants full-time janitors now earning $14.62 an hour to get a $1 an hour raise in each of the three years of a new contract, the Star Tribune reports, with part-time janitors' pay being raised to $15 an hour by the end of deal.

Under the cleaning companies' proposal, full-time workers would pass the $15 threshold by 2018 but part-timers would not, the newspaper says.

Contract talks have been going on for months but the union has been expressing more frustration, including calling a one-day strike earlier this month and blocking traffic in downtown Minneapolis the following morning.

Another negotiating session – the Star Tribune says it will be the 13th – is scheduled for Friday morning.

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