The Potluck

High rise window cleaners call off strike after reaching tentative contract agreement

By: - August 26, 2021 11:17 am

Window washers picket outside the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis on Aug. 16, 2021. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Dozens of Twin Cities high rise window cleaners announced they would end their 10-day strike after reaching a tentative contract agreement with two employers at 1 a.m. Thursday morning.

The workers, unionized with the Service Employees International Union, won both of their main objectives: pay raises from $25.20 an hour to over $30 an hour by the end of the four-year contract, and funding to start a state-registered apprenticeship program that workers say will improve safety and skills. The tentative agreement also includes increased sick days and disability pay.

“From my fellow window cleaners to people on the street honking horns and pumping their fists, the solidarity we experienced is something I’ll treasure forever. I’m so proud we stuck together and won our apprenticeship program and obtained fair raises,” Eric Crone, a window cleaner and steward with SEIU Local 26, said in a statement.

Over the course of 10 days, workers picketed outside the high rises they clean in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as the MSP Airport, where dozens of janitors refused to cross the picket line.

The union rallied local leaders to put pressure on the companies covered by the contract, with over 50 state legislators and city leaders signing onto a letter supporting the striking workers.

The contract covers 40 workers across three companies: Columbia Building Services, Final Touch Commercial Cleaning and Apex North. Workers at Apex North did not strike since that company previously agreed to the principles proposed by the workers.

Striking workers said they’ll return to work on Monday.

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.