After years of fighting, janitors celebrate historic agreement with Target

Retail cleaning workers and supporters of their worker center, CTUL, celebrate a breakthrough agreement with Target to protect workers' rights.

Retail cleaning workers and supporters of their worker center, CTUL, celebrate a breakthrough agreement with Target to protect workers’ rights. (UA photos by Mike Weerts)

Retail cleaning workers celebrated a hard-fought victory yesterday in their campaign for better wages and working conditions, as the Twin Cities-based worker center CTUL announced Target had agreed to hold its cleaning contractors to a new set of standards designed to protect workers’ rights.

In a letter to CTUL organizers last week, Target agreed to implement a Responsible Contractor Policy over the next few months, as the retailer seeks out new cleaning service agreements to cover its stores in the Twin Cities. The policy includes three key elements for cleaning workers:

  • The right to form store-based safety committees, with half of the committee consisting of workers elected by their peers.
  • Assurances that they will not be forced to work seven days per week.
  • A guarantee that their collective-bargaining rights will be protected.

CTUL, a Spanish acronym for “Center for Workers United in Struggle,” is not a union, but Co-Director Veronica Mendez said the Service Employees International Union would seek to represent the 150-plus workers who clean area Target stores. If the organizing drive is successful, she added, workers would maintain a dual CTUL-SEIU membership.

Retail cleaning workers who attended a victory celebration in Minneapolis yesterday hailed the agreement an historic breakthrough in their protracted campaign to improve working conditions.

CTUL member Lucilla Dominguez said she hoped other retailers would follow Target’s lead. Many of the contractors that do business with Target do business with other big-box and chain stores, too.

“What Target has done is something very important for all of us,” Dominguez said through a translator. “Now we call on all the other stores, including Sears, Michael’s and Kohl’s, to follow the leadership role Target has already begun to play.”

Lucilla Dominguez (L) speaks at a press conference during CTUL's victory celebration. Veronica Mendez translates.

Lucilla Dominguez (L) speaks at a press conference during CTUL’s victory celebration. Veronica Mendez translates.

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