Teamsters union votes to accept final contract offer from UMN

Striking is now off the table for the union, but some members are still discontent with the final offer. The union has been without a contract since July.

Teamsters Local 320 members stand present at an MSA forum to support a resolution drafted by Austin Berger on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Image by Nur B. Adam

Teamsters Local 320 members stand present at an MSA forum to support a resolution drafted by Austin Berger on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

by Niamh Coomey and Hana Ikramuddin

More than seven months after their contract expired, the Teamsters Local 320 workers union voted to accept the University of Minnesota’s final offer Monday.

The final offer, which came after months of negotiations, did not meet several of the Teamsters’ demands about wages, year-round employment for food service workers and harassment language, union members said. But because the majority of union members accepted the offer, Teamsters will not be going on strike.

Teamsters Business Agent Hannah Bernardson said several hundred members voted to keep the contract, while close to 150 voted against it.

Among members, opinions about the final offer were split, Bernardson said.

“In the bargaining unit, you know, we have some people that are satisfied with the contract, but we have a large amount of people that are still unsatisfied,” she said.

In a statement emailed to the Minnesota Daily ahead of Monday’s vote, the University said it is committed to working with the Teamsters on the next steps following the vote. 

Now that the votes are in, the union’s bargaining committee will meet again with the University to confirm the contract.

Teamsters member Mick Kelly said the union has had three main points of contention with the University over the course of negotiations: wages, food service employees and harassment language.

Last year, some Teamsters dining employees were shifted from 12- to nine-month contracts because of the lack of summer work in dining services on campus. 

Some union members said they were discontent with the cutback on hours and fewer choices over what position they have during the summer. Due to this, among other concerns, some Teamsters members demonstrated at the reopening of Pioneer Hall last fall. 

“We feel that our cause is just, that our demands are reasonable and the U has to address these problems,” Kelly said.

In an interview last month, Bernardson said the University was not accommodating the Teamsters’ requests to include specific language about harassment in their contract. 

While the bargaining unit was not surprised by what was in the University’s final offer, some were disappointed, Bernardson said. Going forward, the union will need to determine how to proceed with addressing the summer work issues, she said.

Under the new contract, Teamsters members will be paid retroactively with their new raises back to Sept. 30 despite having been without a contract since July, Bernardson said. 

Members were content with the 2.25% wage increase, but were unhappy that the retroactive pay will not go back to when their contract ended, she said. 

Bernardson said the Teamsters will continue to address the challenges faced by food service workers at the University.

“That fight definitely isn’t over,” she said. “They will be hearing from us. They will be seeing us out on campus, you know, rallying our folks up, trying to get some sort of agreement in place for our food service workers.”