SEIU Local 26 members approve Unfair Labor Practice Strike

Saturday's vote sets up strike for nearly 8,000 workers in the Twin Cities

Mark Freie
February 08, 2020 - 4:26 pm
SEIU Local 26 votes in favor of Unfair Labor Practice strike

Mark Freie

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A strike involving nearly 8,000 people who work protect and clear some of the Twin Cities' biggest buildings could soon be reality.

In resounding "yes" vote Saturday, hundreds of SEIU Local 26 members gathered at the Union Hall today in northeast Minneapolis for a live vote calling for an Unfair Labor Practice strike. The vote authorizes the bargaining team to call for a strike in the near future if agreements are not reached.

SEIU Local 26 represents individuals subcontracted as janitors, retail cleaners, security guards, airport workers, and more in the Twin Cities. The Union has been negotiating seven contracts for nearly three months and little progress has been made.

"[The big subcontractors] are just saying 'no'," said Greg Nammacher, the SEIU Local 26 secretary and treasurer. "Three months we got to negotiations and three months later, we don't have a single settlement on any of the issues the worker put forward."

Healthcare, wages, safer working conditions, client request protections, and penalties for incorrect paycheck amounts are among several other issues SEIU Local 26 says they're fighting for.

Related Union votes for 7-day strike against Bloomington-based HealthPartners

Saturday's vote included those working as janitors, security officers, and retail cleaners. Other occupations covered by SEIU Local 26 could not participate in the vote due to existing contracts that don't allow strikes while a contract is valid.

However, those contracts are set to expire soon, meaning thousands of workers could strike at once.

"There's no set date as to when a strike would happen," Iris Altamirano, the SEIU Local 26 president said. "We've had movement in several of our tables, which make workers who are often invisible, visible."

Altamirano says part of the negotiations with contractors is to help workers improve their standard of living and their community. They are also working to help protect the environment.

"In our janitorial contract we're trying to give them the ability to become green technicians," Altamirano said. "In the end, this would help all of us to reduce carbon conditions. At our Local and through our bargaining, we're not just focused on our workers, but we're trying to set a standard for others to see."

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