Teamsters Call Out Challenges Facing Members as 1,500 Fight for Contract
Press Contact: Matt McQuaid Phone: (202) 624-6877 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(WASHINGTON) – For weeks, Teamsters nationwide have stepped up their efforts to educate Golden Gophers’ alumni about the abusive labor practices of the University of Minnesota (UMN), including concerns regarding poverty-level wages, discrimination, food insecurity and homelessness amongst service workers.
Teamsters Local 320 is fighting for a new contract for 1,500 custodians, dormitory attendants, dining workers, animal research caregivers, waste workers, and other service workers at the five main UMN campuses. Many of the workers are Black, including immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other East African countries.
“It makes me proud to see the outpouring of Teamster solidarity across the country for our brothers and sisters at the University of Minnesota,” said Brian Aldes, Local 320 Secretary-Treasurer. “UMN and its president, Joan Gabel, need to understand that if they force us to take it to the streets, the Teamsters will do whatever it takes to make sure none of our members have to skip meals because they don’t have enough money for food.”
In Portland, Ore. Teamsters Local 305 and Teamsters Joint Council 37 distributed leaflets asking “What’s gone wrong at the University of Minnesota?” at the Portland Alumni Network’s monthly breakfast. In Tampa Bay, Fla., Teamsters Local 79 held banners outside the Tampa Big Ten Kickoff alumni event calling on the university to “end worker abuse.” Teamsters Local 455 went to a Colorado Rockies baseball game to handbill alumni by attending the Annual University of Minnesota Night with the Colorado Rockies, hosted by the Denver Alumni Network.
According to a recent survey of at least 450 current and former UMN service workers, more than 62 percent reported not earning enough money to pay for basic expenses every month.
Almost 12 percent reported experiencing homelessness at least once while working for UMN. Nearly 20 percent reported being hungry but not eating because they did not have the money.
A recent study on staff compensation conducted by UMN’s Office of Human Resources shows that job salaries for campus operations positions are, on average, 13 percent below the market median. It also showed 74.5 percent of workers’ salaries are below the market salary median.
“We are ready to negotiate a fair contract that honors the contributions of service workers at the university,” Aldes said. “We are also preparing to strike the university if the current administration isn’t willing to address poverty-level wages, staffing shortages, and high rates of turnover. These unconscionable practices are hampering the university’s ability to provide services. These include responsibly caring for research animals on campus, effectively implementing the waste reduction program, and making sure food services are functional.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.