Janitors secure payment from wage theft settlement

Retail janitors involved in a class action wage theft lawsuit against a cleaning vendor for Macy’s and Herberger’s stores received settlement payments July 29.

Leticia Zuniga, one of the lawsuit plaintiffs and a Illinois-based Capital Building Services Group (CBSG) employee who cleans Herberger’s stores in the Twin Cities, credited the organizing efforts of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) with achieving justice for workers. She’s a member of the Minneapolis-based workers advocacy group.

“Getting this check today means that by organizing together we were able to win back what Capital had stolen from us,” Zuniga said in a statement released by CTUL. “Wage theft had been going on for a long time and neither the stores nor the public knew. By standing up for our rights together and speaking out, workers made justice a reality.”

Representatives of CBSG could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this year, the non-union janitors reached a settlement with Capital for $425,000 in back wages and damages. The settlement impacts about 600 workers. The settlement also ensures that employees will get paystubs.

Through organizing efforts with CTUL, retail janitors have secured more than $1 million in settlements in the past three years for workers who have been wage theft victims. In addition to Macy’s and Herberger’s stores, the cases involve janitors who have worked at Kohl’s, Sears and Best Buy, among other local retailers.

CTUL plans to keep campaigning this fall during the busy back-to-school sales season, highlighting efforts to encourage retailers to adopt a responsible contractor policy.

“I will continue to organize and fight for my rights because Capital still needs to be a more responsible company,” Zuniga said. “We need materials and protective gear, we deserve to earn a living wage, and we want a fair path to forming a union so workers have a voice on the job. I know other retail janitors who are struggling with similar problems so we will continue fighting until we improve standards in the whole industry.”

Zuniga and her husband Abraham Quevedo travelled to Washington, D.C., earlier this year to share their challenges with wage theft with lawmakers.

The Journals’ featured an interview with them for a special project on wage theft called “Shortchanged.”