As workers prepare to strike cleaning and security contractors, other union members, people of faith and concerned Minnesotans are ready to take to the streets to unlock Minnesota’s future
ST. PAUL (February 19, 2013) — In a press conference held this morning at the State Office Building in Saint Paul, leaders from labor unions, faith-based organizations and community groups announced a community deadline for noon on Sunday. The deadline is included in a letter sent today to top executives at U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Target, outlining concerns, which the groups have asked the corporations to address unsuccessfully for two years. The text of the letter can be found below.
Each of the groups is part of Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, an alliance that is dedicated to bringing about racial and economic justice and creating an economy that works for everyone. These partners are joining together in a campaign that seeks to “unlock Minnesota’s future.”
Twin Cities janitors and security officers are preparing for a potential strike, setting a deadline of noon on Sunday for the contract companies they work for to come to the table and negotiate seriously. Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26, Minnesota’s property services union announced the deadline during this morning’s event.
“Janitors and security officers have been in negotiations for months,” Morillo said. “All they have heard at the bargaining table is that their employers want to keep them in poverty. Every day it is becoming clearer that a strike may be necessary because the richest one percent of our society still does not understand that the true engine of economic growth in Minnesota is a strong, rising middle class.”
Pastor Paul Slack, President of ISAIAH, spoke about the importance of passing a “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights,” legislation currently being considered in the Minnesota Legislature and being opposed by banks such as Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank. “Foreclosures are a problem throughout the entire state of Minnesota,” Slack said. “And we’re asking these financial institutions to stand with us so that we can have commonsense solutions for everybody in Minnesota. They need to stand with us so that we can unlock the future for us all.”
Carol Nieters serves as Executive Director of SEIU Local 284, a union of 8,000 Minnesotans working to ensure that our schools work for our children and their parents. “We call on the corporate community to cease paying lip service to the importance of education,” said Nieters. It is time for Minnesota’s big corporations to pay their fair share and accept that they have a responsibility to provide for our children’s education. It is time for all Minnesotans to reject the false and confining story of austerity and unlock our future.”
“We cannot afford to have major corporations in this state sit idly by—or worse—work to undermine our common wealth for short-term gain,” said Dan McGrath, Executive Director of TakeAction Minnesota. “To these corporations we ask that you show us that you are equal stakeholders in the future of our state. Start by paying your fair share of taxes. In particular, step forward and say that you will stop a history of trying to get around paying taxes and instead start paying your fair share.”
Retail cleaning workers who clean Target and other stores throughout the Twin Cities announced yesterday that they are prepared to strike if the cleaning contractors they work for do not respond to repeated requests for discussions before Sunday at noon. The workers have been organizing through the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL). “While we have gained some small changes, the companies have continued to refuse dialogue, and workers still earn sub-poverty wages,” said Brian Payne, an organizer with CTUL. “In fact, some workers report feeling harassed and intimidated for their organizing efforts.”
The leaders all spoke of the need to stop waiting and to prepare to take action. “For the past two years, these organizations have been talking separately to Minneapolis business leaders about each one of these problems,” Morillo said. “Little or nothing has been done. Now we have all come together under a common banner and a common request: ‘Unlock Our Future.’
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