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Janitors celebrate Target win
The Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en La Lucha (CTUL) celebrated a victory June 10, as Target adopted a new policy to protect the rights of janitors who clean Target stores. The janitors work for contractors, not as direct employees of Target. Under the new Responsible Contractor Policy, Target will ensure that workers have rights to collectively bargain, to form safety committees in the workplace, and that they not be forced to work seven days a week.
The Target statement said in part, “As Target enters into new service agreements with Twin Cities housekeeping service providers over the next few months, the company will include additional language in those contracts aimed at promoting positive and productive dialogue between Target vendors and their workers.”
CTUL and the janitors have been organizing for four years, with actions including picketing, hunger strikes, and marches. According to Veronica Mendez, co-director of CTUL, Target's action is the first of its kind in the retail janitorial industry. At a press conference at Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Mendez said that the sub-contracting system has distanced retail stores from responsibility and has blocked janitors from negotiating directly with the stores who actually have the power. She cited reasons for organizing including "rampant wage theft" and "constant retaliation" against workers who demanded their rights.
Other speakers at the press conference included Enrique Barcenas, a CTUL member and an employee of Prestige Maintenance USA, who cleans a Target store; Isaiah representative Doran Schranz; Bethany Lutheran pastor Rev. Susan Masters; and state legislators — Representative Ryan Winkler, Senator Patricia Torres Ray and Senator Jeff Hayden.
Asked how she felt about the Responsible Contractor Policy announcement, Maricela Flores said, "Mi corazón empieza florecer — asi me siento yo." ("My heart has started to blossom — that's how I feel.")
CTUL helps workers claim their wages (Andrea Richards, TC Daily Planet)
CTUL hunger strike Day 11 (Brian Payne, MN Progressive Project)