Twin Cities Retail Cleaning Workers Set Deadline for Strike

Janitors who clean Target and other big box stores cite ongoing disputes with contract employers

Minneapolis (February 18, 2013) — Retail cleaning workers who clean Target and other stores in the Twin Cities announced today that they are set to walk off the job if employers continue to refuse to open discussions with them and the Centro de Trabajodores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a Minneapolis workers center that has been organizing the workers for more than two years. The group has set a deadline for noon on Sunday, February 24 for retail cleaning contactors like Diversified Maintenance Systems, Carlson Building Maintenance, and Eurest Services to open dialogue with the workers regarding the right to organize without fear of retaliation.

110804021654_target_shopping_cartsShould the companies not agree to the worker’s request by Sunday, the workers have agreed to an unfair labor practice (ULP) strike, which could occur at any time following the noon deadline. In such a strike, workers will walk off the job, conducting what is believed to be the first-known strike of retail cleaning workers who clean Target stores in the company’s history.

“I work for Carlson Building Maintenance cleaning a Target store, and I will be going on strike,” said Carlos Galarza, a CTUL member and retail-cleaning worker. “I have worked for different companies in retail cleaning for different companies for 11 years, and I am tired of watching as wages and working conditions seem to get worse and worse every year. Now when we are organizing for a change, cleaning companies are retaliating against workers. It is time for justice in retail cleaning.”

“I work for Diversified Maintenance cleaning a Target store,” said Alejandro Quirino, a member of CTUL and a retail-cleaning employee. As we work cleaning stores in the Twin Cities, we earn poverty wages that do not cover our expenses. I am organizing for a better future for my family, for my wife, and for my children. I will be going on strike demanding our rights to organize without fear of retaliation.”

“I work for Eurest cleaning Kohl’s and Home Depot stores. I am fighting for a raise because with I want a chance get through college and move foreword in life, but with the low wages they pay its almost impossible. Now that workers are standing together and organizing for a change, cleaning companies have retaliated against some workers. I will be going on strike to protect our rights,” Bradon Ruecker, member of CTUL, retail cleaning employee.

A recent class action settlement was reached between retail-cleaning workers and Diversified Maintenance systems for $675,000 in damages. The suit alleged that the contractor forced workers to work up to 80 hours a week without receiving full overtime pay while cleaning Target and other stores.

In their 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report, Target claims that: “We will not knowingly work with any company that does not comply with our ethical standards…” and “We seek business partners who do not require a work week that exceeds local laws or business customs and who do not require a week of more than 48 hours, plus a maximum of 12 hours overtime, on a regularly scheduled basis. Workers shall have at least one in seven days off.”

25 janitors who clean Target stores in the Twin Cities metro area also filed charges just two weeks ago with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) alleging that workers were locked in stores overnight and/or did not receive proper safety training.

Diversified Maintenance Systems is Target’s largest cleaning contractor, with contracts to clean over 600 Target stores nationwide. Over the past 10 years, DMS has faced at least:

  • Eight Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) complaints, exposing 44 violations of workplace safety regulations.
  • Six U.S. Department of Labor investigations, finding 87 violations of minimum wage and/or overtime laws.
  • 10 federal lawsuits alleging unpaid wages and/or overtime. According to a 2011 lawsuit in MN, workers complained of having to work up to seven days, 56-80 hours/week without overtime pay.

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Media Contacts: Eric Fought, efought@mnfaireconomy.org or Brian Payne, brian@ctul.net

 

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