Twin Cities workers plan May Day actions for better working conditions, immigrant rights

Home Depot janitors staged a strike on Trump’s first day in office.

Workers have unveiled plans to strike, rally and march May 1 for better wages, safe working conditions and respect on the job.

At a press conference last week outside a Minneapolis Home Depot, local organizers said International Workers’ Day takes on added urgency this year, given the “current political climate and mass mobilization of communities all across the state and country.”

As they did on Inauguration Day, janitors who clean Home Depot stores, organizing with the Twin Cities worker center CTUL, will stage a one-day strike May 1, kicking off a series of related actions:

  • Picketing outside Home Depot, 1520 New Brighton Blvd. NE, Minneapolis, 9:30 a.m.
  • University of Minnesota AFSCME members’ contract campaign kickoff, Morrill Hall, 100 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, noon.
  • Mesa Latina rally, Minnesota Capitol, St. Paul, 1:30 p.m.
  • Resist from Day One March, East Phillips Park, 2399 17th Ave. S, Minneapolis, 4:30 p.m.

Home Depot uses subcontractors that hire janitors at low wages with no benefits. Some subcontractors have faced lawsuits alleging wage theft. It’s an approach CTUL members like Luciano Balbuena, who cleans a Home Depot store as an employee of the contractor Kimco, consider the “Trump model” of business.

“We have been fighting for fair wages, benefits and the right to organize for several years now and are still forced to survive with poverty wages,” Balbuena said. “Other retail janitorial companies have improved wages and other standards, but our companies refuse to meet those basic standards.

“We are not afraid of our bosses, nor are we afraid of Trump. When we unite and come together to make changes, we can win. That is what we will do on May 1st, because it is time for our hard work to be recognized.”

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