MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the latest victory for working people in the national Fight for $15, security officers have won a tentative agreement that will raise wages to at least $15 for thousands of Minnesota families. Minnesota janitors, who are going on strike today, could be next.
The security officers are living proof that sticking together in a union works. Their agreement will increase pay for 2,000 security officers united in SEIU Local 26 to at least $15 in three years. With some of those officers currently paid just $10 an hour, the raise represents a dramatic 50 percent increase.
"Going from $10 to $15 will be a huge step for me," says Minnesota security officer Dean Walters, who helped negotiate the contract. "Our union means we have strength in numbers."
The national Fight for $15 movement—which unites fast food workers, airport workers, security officers, janitors, laundry workers, home care workers, child care workers, laundry workers, college faculty and others—has won impressive victories across the country, raising wages in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York state (for fast food workers) and for home care workers in Massachusetts and Oregon.
These victories gain increasing importance as the 2016 election focuses on economic imbalances in our country and millions of voters are making increased wages a top priority. Minnesota's caucuses are scheduled for "Super Tuesday" on March 1. And as the post-Scalia Supreme Court continues to consider Friedrichs vs. the California Teachers Association—a case sponsored by billionaires who want to strip working people of the ability to stick together in a union—the security officers' victory shows that no court case will stop working people from working together to win higher wages.
Janitors in Minnesota are looking to score the next Fight for $15 victory. They are striking today against Unfair Labor Practices by their employers—which include contractors ABM, Harvard Maintenance, and Marsden Building Maintenance. More than 4,000 union janitors in Minnesota are fighting for $15 for both full- and part-time cleaners. They clean, for example, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport and properties owned by corporations including Best Buy, United Health Group, Medtronic, USBank, and Wells Fargo.
More than 130,000 janitors across the country have been negotiating new collective bargaining agreements since early last year. A majority (57 percent) of janitors will be paid a minimum of $15 by the end of their current contracts. A new contract for Minnesota janitors would represent an important step toward racial justice in Minnesota. More than 90 percent of Local 26 janitors are people of color and the raises proposed by janitors would pump an additional $12.5 million into local communities.
In addition to higher wages, the new security contract includes many provisions that improve family life: 3-5 sick days per year, single-coverage healthcare for $35 per month, single-plus-kids healthcare for $200, six paid holidays, 1-3 weeks of vacation, and more rational work schedules.
Such achievements show why working people's unions are increasingly popular. A recent poll showed 72 percent of workers paid less than $15 an hour believe unions can make a real difference in whether they get raises. A Gallup poll shows a strong majority—58 percent—of Americans approve of labor unions.
Security officers are part of a national trend of people forming unions in not-traditionally-union industries. In 2015 alone, 2,100 security officers in Baltimore, Sacramento, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh formed new unions and won their first contracts. In Silicon Valley, security officers have also recently won major job improvements from companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook.
SEIU represents 375,000 property service workers—including security officers, janitors, laundry workers and airport workers—across the country.
SOURCE Service Employees International Union