Community notebook :: New Team Ortho race

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March 15, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott

Team Ortho debuts new Downtown run

Team Ortho, the pavement pounding do-gooders behind such charity races as the Minneapolis Marathon, the Polar Dash and the Monster Dash, will launch their newest race, Get Lucky!, on March 20.

Commemorating both St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring, Get Lucky! is a 7k (4.3 mile) loop that follows the Downtown banks of the Mississippi River. The race begins at 10 a.m. near the Mill City Museum, and an after party reserved exclusively for race participants will take place at the new Kieran’s Irish Pub, in Block E.

Like all Team Ortho races, Get Lucky! is a way to stimulate giving to various local charities. For this race, one dollar for each registered runner was donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The first check — for $3,000, intended to partially assist Kieran Folliard’s commitment to send a boy to South Africa this summer for the 2010 World Cup — was handed over on Feb. 23. In the last four years, Team Ortho has donated $120,000 to various charities.

At press time, general registration was closed, but Team Ortho was advertising a few available charitable slots that each cost $77. Racers can register for these spots on the day of the event.Visit their website, teamortho.us for more details, including a course map and a list of prizes.

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Downtown janitors ratify new contract

After months of stalled negotiations, heated rhetoric, skyway marches and threats to walk off the job, the tension between Downtown janitors and the Minneapolis–Saint Paul Contract Cleaners Association finally cooled on March 6, when the janitors voted unanimously to ratify a new three-year labor contract.

The new contract crowns two weeks of victories for SEIU Local 26, which represents some 4,000 Twin Cities janitors, as well as security officers and window cleaners. On Feb. 23 the union reached a tentative agreement with St. Paul-based cleaning contractor Marsden. Then the following week, similar agreements were reached with the rest of the janitors’ employers: ABM, FBG, Harvard, Mid-City and Triangle.

The new contract institutes many of the proposals the janitors had aggressively lobbied for, including support for green cleaning initiatives, vastly improved health care coverage and a first-of-its-kind guarantee of job security in the event that buildings change cleaning companies. The agreement also includes a guarantee of an eight-hour day for all full-time janitors by 2012 — currently a six-hour day is considered full time — as well as the creation of a specific process for when building owners choose to transition to day-shift cleaning.

All janitors receive a $0.25 raise upon ratification. The raise, combined with the transition to eight-hour shifts, will translate to an income increase of up to 38 percent for full-time janitors by Jan. 1, 2012, SEIU Local 26 president Javier Morillo said. About 55 percent of janitors currently work full time.

Morillo especially heralded the new health care plan, which he called a “significant breakthrough.” The new contract will put all janitors on one quality plan, he said, which will have an out-of-pocket maximum of $5,000. In addition, the companies’ contribution to that plan will jump by $144 per month over the next 21 months.

The janitors’ campaign, led by Morillo, was an aggressive one, often applying pressure through dramatic public demonstrations. The janitors organized several skyway marches, and in February loudly disrupted a meeting of the state’s top bankers in St. Paul.

Of the union’s aggressive approach, Morillo said, “not only do we get heard, but we get results. I think a lot of people identified with our fundamental question: how long will we allow a bad economy to be used as an excuse for why we have to settle for less and less?”

For a complete run-down of the janitors’ campaign, visit downtownjournal.com.

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OLSON to again lead Minneapolis St. Patrick’s Day Parade

For the second year in a row, the iconic Loring Park creative firm OLSON will furnish the lead unit for the 41st annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Nicollet Mall.

Last year, Olson proved a raucous and flamboyant lead for the parade, recruiting some 325 marchers, three live llamas and a Segway scooter for its Brickman mascot to ride on. The llamas and the Brickman return this year, along with a fleet of OLSON employees, clients, friends and families, all sporting green mittens with a shamrock printed on their palms, inspired by the white maple leaf mittens worn by the Canadian Olympic Team during the opening ceremonies.

In addition, the St. Paul Bouncing Team will bring their aerial acrobatics to Minneapolis. A popular tradition at the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the Bouncing Team is a group of 14 male volunteers who launch a girl skyward by snapping tight a large canvas blanket.

Other attractions include Irish dancers and a bagpipe band, an ad hoc assemblage of copper-haired citizens marching behind the “Red Head Club” banner, a contingent of massive Irish wolf hounds and a convertible full of bags of McGarvey Coffee, the official sponsor of the parade group.

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin serves as the grand marshal this year. Prominent concert promoter Sue McLean, whose offices are above Bunker’s Music Bar & Grill, has been named Irish Business Woman of the Year.

The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at 13th Avenue and Nicollet Mall and continues to 5th Street. A “Blarney Blast” after party is scheduled for Seven Steakhouse. Revelers not sporting a Minneapolis St. Patrick’s Day Association button and shamrock bead set will be asked to pay a cover charge.

Visit mplsstpats.org for further information and to register for the parade.

Metro Transit to offer free rides on St. Patrick’s Day

Metro Transit has announced that it will once again offer free rides on any Metro Transit bus or light rail train on March 17.

The free services begin at 6 p.m. and continue until the last scheduled trip on routes operated by Metro Transit, the Met Council, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority and Plymouth Metrolink. Free rides will not be offered on the Northstar Commuter Rail.

The free service is made possible through a partnership between Metro Transit, MillerCoors and J. J. Taylor Distributing Company.

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North Loop survey seeks suggestion for housing programs


The Warehouse District North Loop Association is seeking input from residents on what types of housing programs should be implemented as part of the Phase Two action plan Neighborhood Revitalization Plan.

The association is welcoming people to make their opinions known through an online survey, available at surveymonkey.com/s/TZMWZPL. Hard copies of the survey are also available at area bars, restaurants and coffee shops. The hard copies include pre-paid postage so that they can be mailed directly to NRP.

“The goal basically is to get peoples’ opinions on what they think the strengths and weaknesses of the neighborhood are and what kind of housing programs they’d like to see,” said spokesperson Crystal Trutnau. She said the WDNLA hopes to have Phase Two approved by Sept. 1.

The deadline to fill out the surveys is April 12.