A strategic alignment of major networks of unions and community groups in Minnesota have worked together for more than a decade to leverage their collective power.

by Sarah Jaffe, In These Times

Andrea Villanueva was in bargaining five days ago, negotiating a new contract for herself and 500 other retail janitors who clean some of the Twin Cities’ most recognizable stores. A group of building security workers, also members of Villanueva’s union SEIU Local 26, were also in negotiations in the same building. The workers bumped into one another in the hallways as the day went on — stopping to cheer each other on and express their solidarity.

Local 26 is just one of a major network of unions and community groups in Minneapolis and St. Paul that lined up bargaining processes for new contracts — and in some cases, strike votes — around a March 2 deadline, deliberately set in order to maximize their leverage and win collectively-determined community demands around four key issues: dignified work, stable housing, a livable planet and good schools.

workers in minnesota hold a protest sign

That deadline is today, and a rolling Week of Action that will likely include thousands of workers on strike, street protests, and art and theater events, is set to begin.

In this collective effort, Local 26’s 8,000 members are joined by thousands of others: teachers and school support workers, care workers from 12 nursing homes, parks and public service employees, transit drivers, construction workers, restaurant staff, and community groups organizing around housing and climate justice. Before March 215,000 workers had taken strike votes and though some of them have settled, some 10,000 may still walk off the job this week.

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