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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

University of Minnesota averts strike with tentative agreement with services workers

After reaching a tentative deal on Saturday, the union representing around 1,500 cooks, custodians, mechanics, and other service employees at the University of Minnesota called off strikes.

The tentative agreement, which has to be accepted by the employees and the university’s Board of Regents, increases workers’ pay by at least 12% over the course of the three-year contract, according to Teamsters Local 320. The minimum wage increase, which would be retroactive to July 1, from $15 to $20 per hour, will benefit new union employees the most.

According to Brian Aldes, secretary and treasurer for Teamsters Local 320, “it was a protracted, hard-fought campaign.” Our members may start the process of escaping poverty.

Employees declared their intention to “stop poverty wages” at the institution, citing a recent study of university service workers that revealed 61% of them lack the resources to cover basic expenditures and 8% of them had been homeless while working for the university.

The agreement provides guaranteed employment for some dining hall personnel over the summer months in addition to compensation increases. For employees, who are essentially laid off for three months each year but are not eligible for unemployment benefits, that was a top concern. The deal allows food services employees with 12-month contracts to work at least 30 hours per week throughout the summer.

The institution expressed its satisfaction at reaching “an equitable resolution that adequately pays our Teamsters employees” in a statement distributed to students, teachers, and staff.

The agreement, which was reached after more than 50 hours of mediation, offers longer tenure and bigger compensation increases than the university’s prior “last best final offer.” The institution provided an average of 5% raises over the course of a one-year contract before staff decided to go on strike for the first time in history.

The union desired a three-year contract to provide its members greater financial security and to thwart any possible reductions in health coverage. Aldes stated that the university sought to include health insurance into a committee procedure under its authority.

Aldes claimed that the union also upheld seniority rights, preventing the institution from paying new hires more than it is paying current staff.

Due to its difficulty filling several campus roles, the institution will probably become a more attractive employer as a result of the hikes. The union attributes poor pay on it, citing research from the university that shows earnings are 13% below market rates.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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