Dozens of protesters descended on the IDS Center at noon today. "What do we want? Healthcare," the group chanted as they emerged from the skyway system. "When do we want it? Now." The protesters also carried signs that read "Stand up for Health Care" and "Protect Working Families." They handed out flyers to the bewildered lunch crowd headlined, "Do you want strong, healthy, well-trained security officers to protect you downtown?"
The rally was held to garner support for security officers who are locked in a contract fight with five companies that provide security at Twin Cities office buildings. The chief dispute is over health care costs. According to Service Employees International Union Local 26, the union that represents the workers, the current contract proposal would increase insurance premiums by as much as 50 percent during the proposed five-year contract.
"We're out here today because we need health insurance," said Tom Convington, who's worked as a security guard at the US Bancorp building in downtown Minneapolis for two years. "People are leaving their jobs because they can't afford the health insurance."
The group then proceeded to the lobby of Minnesota's tallest building. About a dozen protesters bound themselves together with duct tape around an informational kiosk.
Eventually they were arrested by Minneapolis police officers. All together 17 people were cited for trespassing, including nine security officers. Strangely they were hauled away on a Metro Transit bus. It was the second time in a week that arrests were made at protests stemming from the labor dispute.