Custodians in Twin Cities and South Florida Poised to Strike

Thousands are ready to walk off the job for better pay and training.

February 28, 2024

Two separate labor unions representing custodians in two different American cities are poised to strike—some as early as this Friday.

On Monday of this week, according to the Star Tribune, almost 8,000 janitors, security guards, and other airport service workers of SEIU Local 26 in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area announced they were ready to strike if necessary. Workers are seeking better pay, improved training, and a retirement pension.

“Pay is absolutely one of the biggest issues,” Greg Nammacher, SEIU Local 26, told Star Tribune. “We have seen inflation of 17%, and our wages have not kept up.”

Several retail companies—including Ikea, Target, and Best Buy—as well as Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, along with several office buildings and venues, are involved in the negotiations, which began last November. If no agreement is reached, union members are set to strike on Monday, March 11. The parties have four bargaining sessions left before the strike date, but the union has indicated that they’d be willing to delay the strike by a month if there was hope of reaching an agreement.

Similarly, according to Miami’s Community News, 1,500 janitors represented by labor union 32BJ SEIU in South Florida voted last Wednesday to strike as early as this Friday if their demands are not met by the current agreement’s expiration date of Thursday, February 29.

The workers, who clean 77% of the office buildings in downtown Miami and Fort Lauderdale, are demanding higher wages, plus more paid time off. Part-time janitors, who make up 80% of the workforce, are also looking for full-time hours.

“No one wants to strike, but we are ready to do whatever it takes if cleaners are denied access to full-time hours for a full paycheck,” said Manny Pastreich, 32BJ SEIU president. “Miami’s commercial real estate market is one of the most expensive and profitable in the nation, yet the cleaners in those buildings are paid the lowest.”

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