Union to file notice of strike intent

The filing begins a mandatory 10-day cooling-off period, meaning University workers could strike as soon as Oct. 21.

Jessica Weaver

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800, the union representing 1,800 University clerical workers, plans to file an intent-to-strike notice with the state Bureau of Mediation Services on Thursday morning, making a strike possible as soon as Oct. 21.

State law requires a 10-day “cooling off period” after filing before a strike can begin.

A strike by the union would slow many campus services, including processing paperwork, grant research and administrative duties.

AFSCME Local 3800 President Phyllis Walker said members hope for more negotiations.

“We hope the University and clerical workers can work out a contract that clerical workers are able to accept,” Walker said.

She said AFSCME Local 3800’s chief negotiator has not received official contact from the University.

Carol Carrier, vice president for the University’s Office of Human Resources, said the University is interested in negotiating with clerical workers.

“We have asked the Bureau of Mediation Services to get us back together,” Carrier said. She added that AFSCME Local 3800 workers and the University worked with a mediator on previous occasions.

Law professor Stephen Befort said the mediator’s role is to work with the parties to explore a voluntary resolution.

If the dispute is not resolved and workers strike, teaching assistants and other nonunionized workers could have increased work loads, University employees said.

And some work probably would not get done, said Sandi Sherman, executive administrative specialist in the University’s Cancer Center.

“I am sure my work load would increase if she was gone. (Sherman’s) role is integral to our daily work,” said Rebecca Asch, a junior scientist in the center.

Twenty-five of the University’s 150 bookstore employees are AFSCME Local 3800 members, bookstore director Bob Crabb said.

The bookstore has talked with directors to lay out a plan if a strike occurs, and Crabb said the bookstore would attempt to function as normal.

While the Minnesota Student Association voted down a resolution supporting AFSCME Local 3800 workers last month, the union continues to receive support from some students.

Ten students gathered at University President Bob Bruininks’ office Tuesday to offer him a free lunch – mocking his State of the University address when he said “even living at Eastcliff is no free lunch.”

The visit protested both rising tuition costs and University labor practices.

Third-year law student Aaron Marcus said it was organized by students and had no official affiliation with the union.

Bruininks was not in his office at the time of the protest and was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

– Koran Addo, Tricia Michel and Chelsie Hanstad contributed to this report.