Taking On Human Rights Violations in Retail Cleaning

On November 6, cleaning workers and their allies in Minneapolis will lead a March for Justice in Retail Cleaning, with stops at Target, SuperValu and Lunds & Byerly’s, calling on those companies to agree to a code of conduct guaranteeing fair wages and working conditions for the workers who clean their stores.

Wages and working conditions in retail cleaning have plummeted over the last 10 years as retail giants like Target and SuperValu have subcontracted cleaning out to other companies, a process that pits dozens of cleaning companies against each other, each underbidding the other in the mad scramble to win contracts.

“We are tired of the violations of human rights in our workplaces as we suffer the results of this process,” said Mario Colloly, a retail cleaning worker at Cub Foods (a SuperValu chain). “Workers will no longer watch the profits of these corporate giants soar as our wages and working conditions spiral downward.”

“We’re calling on Target, SuperValu, and Lunds & Byerly’s to partner with workers to establish fair wages and working conditions in the cleaning of their stores,” said Veronica Mendez, an organizer with the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle, a worker center in Minneapolis affiliated with the national network Interfaith Worker Justice.

In April, retail cleaning workers with the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha sent a letter to Target, SuperValu and Lunds & Byerly’s informing them of the serious violations of human rights taking place in retail cleaning. In that letter and in other communications, workers and allies requested a meeting with the companies to discuss ways to end these abuses.

While Jerry’s Foods, a major franchise owner of Cub Foods, responded with a willingness to open a dialogue on fair standards, Target, SuperValu and Lunds & Byerly’s have continued to turn a blind eye to the injustices taking place in their stores by refusing to meet with workers.

“It’s time for these companies to live up to their standards of corporate responsibility by partnering with the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha to establish a code of conduct guaranteeing fair wages and working conditions for the workers who clean their stores,” said Colloly.

“No corporation can escape its responsibility to workers by simply outsourcing their work to some other company that doesn’t observe the rights of those workers,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) at a recent press conference about the issue.

“We sincerely hope that the companies will live up to their reputations as socially responsible corporations,” said Rep. Ellison. But if they disappoint us…it will be time for all of us to step forward.”

“Only by re-paying workers what they are owed and setting new standards for contracting can companies find wholeness for themselves and their workers,” said Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice and the author of Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid—And What We Can Do About It.

WHAT

March for Justice in Retail Cleaning

WHEN

Saturday, November 6th, 11:00am – 2:00 pm

WHERE

Start time and place: 11:00am, Grace Trinity Community Church (1430 W. 28th St.)

March route: Lake Street from Uptown to Minnehaha, with special stops at Lunds in Uptown (1450 W. Lake St), SuperValu at Nicollet and Lake, and Target at 26th and Lake

End time and place: 2:00pm, Holy Trinity Church, 2730 E. 31st St. Rally.

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2 Responses

  1. [...] Taking On Human Rights Violations in Retail Cleaning (talkingunion.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. thank you for this blog

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