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Northeastern University Workers Vote To Strike Days Before CGI Event, Forcing Clintons to Cross Union Picket or Cancel Forum

Hundreds of Low Wage Northeastern University Workers Approved Union Strike set to Begin Two Days Before Clintons, CGI Set to Host Event on Campus

BOSTON, MA—In the set up for a major labor confrontation, hundreds of Northeastern University workers overwhelmingly approved a strike, set to begin just two days before the Clintons and the Clinton Global Initiative comes to the University for a prescheduled event. Attendees of Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative University event slated for Northeastern University on October 13 are looking at the major possibility of either crossing picket lines of workers of color demanding an end to the poverty jobs Northeastern offers them, or skipping out on the CGI event altogether.

More than 300 union food service workers at Northeastern University, represented by UNITE HERE Local 26, voted October 4th to authorize a strike to raise wages to $35,000 a year, finally offering the largely immigrant cafeteria workers at Northeastern a sustainable annual income and affordable health care. Negotiations began in April but have yet to yield these demands. The strike is currently set to begin October 11 if the labor dispute is not resolved; which would mean Bill and Chelsea Clinton will encounter picket lines when they plan to attend the CGIU event.

The average UNITE HERE food service worker at Northeastern University currently earns under than $22,000 a year, forcing these workers to rely on public assistance and subsidies for childcare and health care despite the wealth of their employer. Northeastern workers and students have called on Northeastern University to end poverty for workers on its campus, a goal they feel is congruent with the Clinton Foundation and CGIU missions.

“Even though I work full-time at a wealthy university, I’m forced to live in low-income housing and am facing eviction right now,” said food service worker Roxanna Santana. “My daughter wants to go to college next year like all the students I serve on the Northeastern campus, but I cannot afford to send her, or save for my family’s future.”

“It’s hypocritical of the Northeastern administration to host the Clinton Foundation conference while they force the Northeastern dining hall workers out on strike with poverty wages that disproportionately impact the people of color and women in these jobs,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “Certainly this irony isn’t lost on the Clintons.”

UNITE HERE Local 26 workers who are employed full time at the university currently are paid an annual average wage of $21,460 – a poverty wage in the heart of Boston. UNITE HERE Local 26 is calling on the Clintons and CGI to not break the worker strike and cross the picket line this week: to instead play a crucial role in resolving this conflict which at it’s core is about the alleviation of poverty for women and people of color.

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UNITE HERE represents 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada, including 75,000 members in California. Learn more at www.unitehere.org.

UNITE HERE Local 26 represents nearly 10,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, and airport industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. UNITE HERE Local 26 members went on strike for 22-days at Harvard University in October 2016 to win sustainable annual income and affordable health care. More at www.local26.org.

For immediate release: October 7, 2017
Contact: Tiffany Ten Eyck, tteneyck@local26.org, 313-515-1807