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Union workers demonstrate at Gabel’s inauguration

Workers gather at Scholars walk as Gabel proceeded toward Northrop Auditorium Friday.
Image by Michael McGough
Union members demonstrate at President Joan Gabel’s inauguration on Friday, Sept. 20.

Members from two workers unions, Teamsters Local 320 and AFSCME Local 3800, held demonstrations as President Joan Gabel walked toward Northrop Auditorium for her inauguration speech Friday morning.  

Over the past weeks, these groups have expressed discontent with contract negotiations with the University of Minnesota. The groups feel their demands on wages and other issues have not been met, and have been taking steps to become more visible to the University community, as well as its leadership.

Last week, AFSCME demonstrated at the first Board of Regents meeting of the academic year. They showed up with signs, and union Vice President Stephanie Taylor gave a brief speech to the board and Gabel, claiming they have not listened to their concerns. 

The Teamsters have been active as well. They held an ‘informational picket’ at the grand re-opening of Pioneer Hall last month to voice their frustrations over worker treatment in residential dining halls.

Both Teamsters and AFSCME members lined Scholars Walk early Friday, holding signs and handing out flyers. As the procession passed them, Teamsters followed along, holding signs.  

Gabel shook hands with Teamsters Vice President Curt Swenson during her walk, thanking the Teamsters for attending. 

“Thank you for coming, thank you for everything you do,” Gabel said. 

Pearl McClintock, a new member of AFSCME, said she wants to support her union members and be more visible to Gabel. 

“I want to be here with my comrades and make our voices heard and be seen,” she said. 

Teamsters member Mick Kelly said the union is working to raise wages for food service workers and be heard by the University. 

“What we are doing today is letting the University community know, including President Gabel, that Teamsters at the University need proper pay,” he said. “We are pushing for adequate wages to feed ourselves and our families and we are pushing for full-time work for food service workers.” 

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