Over 200 union protesters take to Morrill Hall

The protesters demanded higher wages and respect on East Bank Friday afternoon.

<p>Hannah Bernardson, a business agent for the union group Teamsters Local 320, protests on Friday, Nov. 17, outside Morrill Hall in Minneapolis. The group is fighting for fair wages at the University of Minnesota.</p>

Ellen Schmidt

Hannah Bernardson, a business agent for the union group Teamsters Local 320, protests on Friday, Nov. 17, outside Morrill Hall in Minneapolis. The group is fighting for fair wages at the University of Minnesota.

Natalie Rademacher

Over 200 protesters gathered outside Morrill Hall on Friday afternoon around 1:30 p.m. to demand better contracts and fair wages for University of Minnesota employees.

The picketing event was led by members of Teamsters Local 320, a Minnesota union group for public employees.

“The goal today is to let the University of Minnesota know that we are serious,” said Brian Aldes, secretary and treasurer for Teamsters. 

This protest comes as union workers prepare to negotiate with the University over better wages on Nov. 27. The union has threatened to go on strike if demands are not met.

“We are here standing in solidarity from the University of Minnesota,” said Bob Kolstad, a member of Teamsters.

The group of protesters, which was made up of faculty, students and members of various groups including Teamsters Local 320 and 15 Now, marched around campus. They stood outside of Morrill Hall, the Dunhowe building and Coffman Union, calling for University administration to listen to their demands.

“We are picketing because the U doesn’t want to pay people what they deserve to be paid,” said Bruce Ballentine, a union worker who has worked for facilities management for over 33 years. 

Many protesters said the University needs to change their structure of employment.

“I think these workers should get the wages that are being negotiated for them and should be treated fairly,” said Isaiah Ogren, a first-year economics student who attended the event. 

“The price of everything keeps going up, we need a raise. We have families we have to provide for,” said Adi Meske, a University union worker for 13 years. 

Members of the student group Students for a Democratic Society were also present. 

“We are showing the public that these workers have an ally on campus and in the community,” said Marty Branyon, a member of SDS. 

After walking around campus, the protest finished outside of Coffman and dispersed around 3:30 p.m. 

Carter Blochwitz contributed to this report.