Workers Interfaith Network
Mario is an average guy. He works hard to support his three daughters, one in college, one in high school and one in elementary school. Yet despite his dedicated hard work, long hours and budgeting, Mario has discovered that one job in an unjust workplace isn’t sufficient to take care of his family. That’s why he and other workers like him have come together with community leaders and organizers to make their voices heard and create positive change.
Mario is a retail worker, part of the cleaning crew at a major Twin Cities grocery store. His nightly pay stays the same regardless of the number of hours he works. Not only is the pay inconsistent with the job’s duties, it also forces him to put in long hours at one job and then go directly to another job just to make ends meet.
Retail cleaners like Mario are employed in some of Minnesota largest and most profitable corporations. As cleaning companies compete for contracts with big-name corporations, those with lower bids are more likely to be chosen. In a race to the bottom, people like Mario end up working for amounts significantly less than the previous workers were paid.
Cleaning companies compensate for their low bid contracts by cutting workers’ hours and the amount of available staff, while simultaneously maintaining the workload and pay rate for their employees. However, through a partnership with the Workers Interfaith Network (WIN) and through the development of a campaign designed to get to the root of worker exploitation and wage theft, retail workers have been given the hope that they can change that. In response to the apathy and inaction of these corporations, workers have established their own place to organize, Centro De Trabajadores Unidos En Lucha (CTUL) or Workers United in Struggle.
In the face of challenging day-to-day conditions and the injustice of the situation as a whole, Mario and others like him have not lost faith in the power of people to do the right thing. “This isn’t just our problem, it’s a general problem [within society],” said Mario. “As we organize, other people and individuals will have the courage to do the same . . . they will see that change is possible, it’s a first step toward a better life for us all.”