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Tentative contract agreement boosts janitor wages

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Twin Cities janitors reached a tentative agreement on a new contract early Monday morning, the union tweeted.

Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, which represents more than 4,000 janitors who work for cleaning companies hired by owners of many Twin Cities office buildings, had been pushing for higher wages and more sick time.

And according to an announcement from the group, they've reached a deal. SEIU Local 26 says they won the largest largest raise in decades for Twin Cities janitors.

Negotiations started back in October and the previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2015. In January, the union voted to authorize a strike after employers continued to "stall and intimidate workers." In the past few weeks, janitors staged a 24-hour strike and held numerous demonstrations at local office buildings.

Sunday was the group's 18th negotiation session, it lasted 12 hours and ended at 1 a.m. on Monday morning.

According to the tentative agreement, 60 percent of janitors will get raises, exceeding $15 an hour. That will happen immediately.

Then by the end of their 4-year contract, full-time workers will get another raise to $16.42 an hour. SEIU says thats a 12.3 percent increase.

Part-time janitors will also receive full healthcare benefits and paid sick days.

One concern the group has had is over increasing workloads. Union representatives say the amount of work some janitors are asked to do is unhealthy. The agreement also addresses that issue with ways to prevent janitors from being overworked.

The Star Tribune says union representatives will be able to examine employee workloads on company time. The University of Minnesota will conduct a study on workload problems.

Workers will also have more job security. SEIU says they've prevented a proposal to cut full-time jobs. And janitors won a "just clause," meaning employers can't fire them without a reason.

Union members will vote on the full proposal this weekend.

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