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After near-strike, University of Minnesota officials to consider new service worker deal

The union represents about 1,500 custodians, cooks, groundskeepers and other service workers at the five campuses, including the University of Minnesota Duluth.

UMD campus.
The University of Minnesota Duluth campus Aug. 4.
Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune
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MINNEAPOLIS — After union membership approved it earlier this month, a new contract between Teamsters Local 320 and the University of Minnesota is en route to a Board of Regents meeting in December for final approval.

By a vote of 670-132 in early November , Teamsters members ratified a new contract with the university system that includes a $20 hourly starting wage for all union members and aggregate raises of at least 12% over the span of the three-year contract, which is set to expire in June 2025.

The union represents about 1,500 custodians, cooks, groundskeepers and other service workers at the U’s five campuses, including the University of Minnesota Duluth, where about 150 Teamsters members are employed.

University officials are set to hold a vote of their own on the agreement in a few weeks. The Board of Regents’ Finance and Operations Committee is set to meet Dec. 15 to consider and presumably approve the new contract, which would forward it to a meeting of the board the next day for final approval. The board typically doesn’t meet in November, according to university communications staff.

Union members are set to vote on the new agreement in the next few weeks. It includes a $20 minimum wage for union members and at least 13% pay hikes over the next three years.

The new contract comes after school and union leaders struck a deal early Oct. 22, avoiding a strike that union staff had broadly agreed upon about two weeks prior. The union held a “practice picket” outside Centennial Hall at the U’s Minneapolis headquarters in August.

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Beyond the new wage floor and raises, the new contract also calls for year-round dining service workers to be scheduled for at least 30 hours of work each week during the relatively slow summer months, according to a summary of the tentative agreement union staff promoted on Facebook before members voted.

It also allows the union to have a member sit on the Twin Cities campus’s Sustainability Committee and adds Juneteenth as a paid holiday, among other benefits.

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

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