Members of a Minneapolis-based worker center are calling on the management of Kohl’s department stores to meet about a Responsible Contractor Policy – and to apologize for the behavior of a security officer at Eden Prairie Mall.
Retail janitors organizing with CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle; and community allies demonstrated at the Kohl’s store in the mall Tuesday as part of a national day of action for a $15 minimum wage.
The janitors are calling on Kohl’s to adopt a Responsible Contractor Policy that would require the retailer to contract with cleaning companies that treat workers fairly and respect their right to join a union. Target, Best Buy and other retailers have adopted the policy, which has led to higher wages, better working conditions and unionization.
“A Responsible Contractor Policy would allow us the opportunity to organize for a union without retaliation,” said Luciano Balbuena, a CTUL member and retail janitor. “This would allow us the opportunity to make better wages and have the benefits we need to take care of our families. This is my Christmas wish.”
At Tuesday’s demonstration, janitors and their supporters walked through the mall in Santa Claus hats, singing Christmas carols. When they approached the Kohl’s store, however, they encountered a security officer.
“Shortly after entering the mall, the security officer began assaulting us, pushing people across the hallway, swinging around a drumstick taken from drummers amongst the carolers, and using the stick to hit carolers and jabbed it into my ribs,” said Veronica Mendez-Moore, co-director of CTUL.
“We were singing songs and walking through the mall and he began to get very aggressive. He was obviously not in the holiday spirit. Eventually the police came and escorted him to a back room and allowed us to finish our caroling as we exited, but not before the security officer pushed several members of our group and even punched someone.”
The worker center is seeking an apology from Kohl’s and renewing its call for Kohl’s to meet to discuss a Responsible Contractor Policy.