Security officer campaign escalates; 17 arrested in act of civil disobedience

From Workday Minnesota (3/21/08)
demonstrators occupy lobby
Inside the lobby of U.S. Bancorp Center (above), a group of 17 linked arms and sat down in an act of non-violent civil disobedience. Javier Morillo-Alicea addressed the crowd outside the IDS Center: "We are here to protect and defend community standards..."

Minneapolis - Security officers and community allies filled the lobby of U.S. Bancorp Center in downtown Minneapolis late Thursday afternoon to support a fair contract and 17 were arrested in an act of civil disobedience. U.S. Bancorp was targeted by Service Employees International Union Local 26, which is seeking a new contract for 800 private security officers who work for five security contractors. Members voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to reject a contract offer because it failed to include affordable health insurance.

women being arrested in security officer demonstration
Katherine Blauvelt, Workers Interfaith Network (left) and Lisa Amman, ISAIAH, continued chanting after being handcuffed.

The employers' contract offer would have made health insurance even more expensive than the current contract.

"We are here today to protect and defend community standards and say people who protect multi-million dollar real estate ought to be able to provide for their families," said Javier Morillo-Alicea, addressing a crowd of about 100 union members and supporters outside the IDS Center at about 4:30 p.m.

The group marched across the street and rushed into the lobby of U.S. Bancorp Center, chanting, "What do we want? Health care. When do we want it? Now!"

A group of 17 sat down and linked arms. The crowd continued chanting. Police arrived within minutes. When the seated protestors refused to leave at the request of police, they were arrested. All arrested cooperated with police by presenting their wrists for handcuffing and by walking out of the building.

Outside, the crowd continued chanting while those arrested sat on the edge of a planter, awaiting police vehicles that soon would take them away.

"U.S. Bank, do the right thing!" the crowd chanted. Members of the group arrested also continued chanting.

The security officers' contract expired Jan. 1.

SEIU Local 26 staged a one-day strike Feb. 25 to put pressure on the employers to settle the contract.

"On that one-day strike, we said if it has to get bigger, it has to get bigger," Local 26 president Morillo-Alicea told the crowd Thursday.

The employers group termed the contract that was rejected as their "last, best final best offer."

"They're not prepared to move forward but we're prepared to do more," said Greg Nammacher, SEIU Local 26 program director, speaking to the crowd after police took the 17 people arrested away.

The 17 arrested included SEIU members and staff as well as community supporters from ISAIAH, Workers Interfaith Network, and TakeAction Minnesota.

Steve Share edits the Labor Review, the official publication of the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council.
Photo by Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review

For more information
See the Workday special section on the Stand for Security campaign

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