On Saturday the 22nd, the University of Minnesota and the Teamsters Local 320 reached a tentative agreement on a new three year contract for 1,500 service workers employed by the University, avoiding a planned four day strike due to start the following week.
The dispute began in August when University workers held a “practice picket” outside Centennial Hall on the Minneapolis campus. Their demands included a $20 per hour minimum wage. By September, little progress had been made at the negotiation table. On September 26th, a vote to authorize a strike was announced by the Teamsters Local 320. “Rather than coming to the table to bargain a contract that will lift workers out of poverty and make UMN a place people want to work, UMN is letting good employees quit and letting its operations fall apart,” said Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 320 Brian Aldes. A vote was subsequently held on October 7th authorizing a strike after UMN continued to bargain in bad faith.
The planned strike would take place on the 26th in Minneapolis and the 29th in Duluth, but after some 50 hours of negotiations mediated at the Bureau of Mediation Services, an agreement between the union and the university was reached and the strike was called off. The workers won , among other terms, a guaranteed $20/hr minimum wage, a 5% pay increase plus a 4% increase every year for three years, a guaranteed 30 hours per week of summer work for some food service employees, and the addition of Juneteenth as a paid holiday. “It was a long, hard-fought battle,” said Aldes. “Our members can begin the process of being lifted out of poverty.”