Twin Cities janitors reach contract agreement; security guards may still strike

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The union that represents Twin Cities-area janitors reached a tentative agreement Saturday with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association on a three-year contract, WCCO-TV reports.

The workers, who are part of the Service Employees International Union Local 26, returned to the bargaining table Friday in hopes of an getting new labor contracts to avert a strike.

Janitors and security guards said Friday that they were prepared to go on strike late Sunday night if they didn't reach a new agreement with their employers, the Star Tribune reported.

Negotiations, however, broke down between employers and 2,000 security guards with SEIU Local 26, and the workers could go on strike as soon as Monday.

With more full-time employment, a wage increase of $1.20 over three years, improved employer-based health care coverage, an additional day of sick time, a union bargaining committee member and janitor called the new contract a success.

The new contract also calls for the implementation of a process to determine workload amounts.

Members of the union are employed by third-party contractors who clean and monitor offices for such Twin Cities businesses as Target, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Medtronic, Best Buy and Ecolab.

Contracts that covered some 6,000 workers that belong to SEIU Local 26 expired simultaneously on Dec. 31. Union membership voted Feb. 9 to authorize a strike.

Union officials said the new contracts previously offered by the employers called for a cut of 1,200 full-time janitorial positions, the addition of part-time shifts, and the end of health care benefits for many of the 6,000 workers under the old contracts.

The Star Tribune says security officers are facing cuts in pay and benefits as well.

The union has the backing of Gov. Mark Dayton, who told workers at a SEIU convention in November that they had to step up to the plate if they want to get the wages they deserve.

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