Janitors Fighting for Green Jobs

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Janitors in SEIU Local 26 are fighting for green jobs: safe chemicals for janitors and tenants, day shift cleaning, and strong recycling standards in commercial office buildings. Sign this pledge to stand with janitors in our campaign to create green jobs!

Three years ago, the Sierra Club partnered with janitors who are members of SEIU Local 26, the janitors and security officers, to change janitorial jobs into green jobs.  As part of that campaign, we held press conferences, marched in the skyways, and called on our members to stand with janitors. 

In our partnership to transform the janitorial industry, we looked at three areas:

  • Green cleaning chemicals – Janitors and tenants should know what chemicals are being used in their buildings and have a voice in what those chemicals are.
  • Day shift cleaning – Most janitors work in the evening or overnight. Buildings can easily transition to cleaning during the day to keep the lights off at night and allow janitors to be with their families at night.
  • Commercial office recycling standards – commercial office buildings should have clear standards about sorting recycling out from trash, and they should do so in a way that will not increase janitor’s workload.

Check out this video about green cleaning by SEIU Local 26.

Janitors made some real steps forward three years ago to win green jobs. They won a side letter in their contract that allowed them to have a voice in what chemicals they use, and they won protections to help them when buildings transition to day shift cleaning.

Over the last three years, three buildings have transitioned to day shift cleaning, including Hennepin County Government Center.  Katra Arale, a janitor at Hennepin County Government Center, says of day shift cleaning, “Before when I worked nighttime, I didn’t see my children…maybe only Saturday and Sunday I’d see my children. But now, we make dinner together, we talk, I help with homework. … I work in the morning, and I’m happy now.”

The city of Minneapolis has also passed an ordinance that created some recycling standards for commercial office buildings, but that does require them to source separate recyclables from trash at their buildings.

Now, janitors are bargaining for a new contract, and want to put more teeth on what they won three years ago. They want to close loopholes that allow the companies to avoid negotiating over chemicals, encourage buildings to transition to day shift cleaning, and create protections for workload in case a stricter commercial office recycling ordinance is passed.

If you would like to support janitors, then sign our pledge to stand with janitors in their fight to win green jobs. And then join us on Monday, December 17th at 11am, when SEIU Local 26 members and their communities allies will march in downtown Minneapolis to send a strong message to the Twin Cities 1% that it’s time to transform janitorial jobs: 

What: SEIU Local 26 March on the 1%
When: Monday, December 17th, 11 a.m.
Where: Hennepin County Government Center

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