Twin Cities janitors agree to three-year labor contract

There will not be a janitors strike in the Twin Cities. Service Employees International Union Local 26, which represents 4,200 custodial workers, announced today that it has reached a new labor pact with the consortium of 18 companies that own office towers in the metropolitan area.

The janitors had been working without a contract since the end of last year. On January 13 members of Local 26 voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, but no date was ever set for a work stoppage. (See "Dirty Work" for more details about the labor dispute.)

As with most labor disputes in recent years, the chief negotiating hurdle was health care. According to Local 26, the new contract will reduce monthly health-care costs for full-time workers to $20 for individuals and $75 for family coverage by 2009. In addition they will receive a 10 percent raise over the life of the three-year agreement.

"This victory for janitors sparks hope for all working Minnesotans who are struggling to deal with the rising cost of health care," said Javier Morillo-Alicea, president of Local 26, in a press release. "We need to keep up the fight to make sure that everyone in our state has access to quality, affordable health care for their families."

The union's bargaining committee ratified the agreement unanimously. Janitors will vote on the proposed contract this Saturday.