MINNEAPOLIS – The janitors who clean Twin Cities Target stores announced victory today, after the retailer agreed to a new policy that will give the workers better conditions, including the right to collectively bargain, and ensure workers are not forced to work seven days a week.
The move comes after four years of protests, organized by Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha, or CTUL, a non-profit organization rallying for workers' rights.
CTUL said Target is taking a leadership role in the industry by adopting an unprecedented "Responsible Contractor Policy".
The policy, according to CTUL, includes many key elements to protect workers' rights, including: protecting and ensuring workers' rights to collectively bargain with their employers; ensuring that workers have the right to form safety committees in the workplace made up of at least 50 percent workers who are designated by their co-workers; and ensuring that workers are not forced to work seven days a week.
Maricela Flores is an employee of Carlson Building Maintenance, which contracts with a Shakopee Target store. She said she's worked seven days a week for a year and a half and is looking forward to spending more time with her five children.
"One of the biggest points is I won't be forced to work seven days anymore. It's optional if someone wants to but we are not forced to work seven days a week. I am really happy because we have triumphed," said Flores. "Now that we have finally have this victory, my heart has opened up. It's blossomed."
The move drew praise from Congressman Keith Ellison, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and several lawmakers, including State Representative Ryan Winkler and State Senator Patricia Torres Ray.
"I am very proud to hear that Target has really done the right thing. I have not gone to Target in a long time because I have been waiting for this," Ray told the workers. "And so, I have to say I am happy to go back to Target and I hope other companies follow their example."
CTUL called other stores like Home Depot, JCPenney, Kmart, Sears, Michaels and Kohls to follow.
"For years, retail janitorial work has been pushed further and further into the margins of the economy. It's an industry plagued by wage theft, unsafe working conditions, sub-poverty wages, work overload and more. This policy is a first step towards changing that reality," states Veronica Mendez, Co-Director of CTUL.
Target spokesperson Molly Snyder issued this email statement:
"As a company, we value the importance of listening to the feedback of our guests, vendors, and partners. As a part of that commitment, Target leaders have been engaging with Centro deTrabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) to understand questions they had about vendor policies related to the individuals who clean some of Target's Minnesota stores. Target has always held ourselves, and our vendors, to high ethical standards. As a result of those discussions, we agreed that it was important to reiterate our strong commitment to maintaining high standards and complying with employment laws to our vendors. As a result of that dialogue, Target is in the process of working to include new terms that support those priorities in our housekeeping vendor contracts."
CTUL said the janitors contracted to clean Target now have the option of joining the SEIU Local 26 union.