Union calls for janitor contract deal as coronavirus concerns grow

Members of the SEIU Local 26 are calling for a deal with contractors that would include more paid sick days. (FOX 9)

Officials with Service Employees International Union, which includes about 4,000 Minnesota commercial janitors, say the threat of the novel coronavirus adds to the urgency to reach a deal with contractors.

If no agreement is reached this week, SEIU Local 26 has set a new deadline of March 9 to go on an open-ended strike. They held a one-day strike last week.

The union is asking for an increase in hourly wages, a green training program and more paid sick days. Union leaders say the sick days request is especially crucial now given the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

“As you know our workers are the first to wipe down door knobs and elevators and we just believe that we are part of the solution,” said Iris Altamirano, the president of SEIU Local 26.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport employs nearly 200 of the union's janitorial workers. Negotiations have been going on for months.

Bargaining between the union and employers is set for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.