For the first time in a major metropolitan area in the United States, janitors in the Twin Cities who clean big-box stores (like Target) will be able to join a union. 500 mostly minimum-wage retail janitors have announced that they have joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, and will be able to start negotiating contracts with retailers starting in November. Previously, the SEIU was comprised of janitors in office buildings who receive around $15 per hour wages as well as health benefits. The janitors who were previously not part of a union were not treated the same. They earned minimum wage or slightly more, and few had health benefits.
Target was one of the biggest players to help allow janitors to unionize. In 2014, Target reversed policy and encouraged the contractors they use for janitors to negotiate directly with the janitors. Included in the policy was an agreement that the janitors would not unionize until 60% of the big-box stores in the Twin Cities area allowed their workers to unionize. Joining Target’s lead was Best Buy, Macy’s, Whole Foods, and Lund’s & Byerly’s. Four cleaning companies under the agreement will allow their workers to unionize.