DSC_0068

UNITE HERE Local 26 members at Northeastern ratify agreement, avert strike

STRIKE AVERTED AT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
UNITE HERE Local 26 dining hall workers ratify agreement, win $35,000 and affordable health care in “incredible victory”
DSC_0068
Boston, MA—Today UNITE HERE Local 26 members on Northeastern University’s campus ratified a 5-year agreement just hours before they were scheduled to begin a strike.

Workers voted 316 to 2 to authorize a strike on October 4 over a set of demands that was inspired in part by the 22-day strike at Harvard University. A key issue was workers’ low incomes, leading many to rely on public assistance to survive, even if they worked full-time. Health care was the other main rallying point, as workers demanded affordability, citing lack of funds to seek medical care, or reliance on government health care.
The agreement includes wage increases that will bring full-time workers to $35,000 annually by 2019, and a dramatic increase to the number of full-time schedules available. The new contract will provide a total of $5.65 in hourly wage increases to all workers, across-the-board.

On health care, the agreement now provides an insurance plan that is paid for by the employer at 97 percent. In addition, workers were able to maintain access to a platinum level plan with no takeaways.

The new contract provides enhanced protections for immigrant workers, strengthened non-discrimination language including the addition of gender identity and expression, and additional sick days.

A new “snow days” provision elicited cheers; workers will now be able to use personal or vacation time if they are unable to come into work on days the state closes offices due to a blizzard or snow storm. Workers who are able to brave the elements to serve the campus will be paid time-and-a-half.

And, importantly, workers at Northeastern University will join the UNITE HERE Local 26 pension plan, allowing them to begin to accrue retirement benefits.

UNITE HERE Local 26 Lead Negotiation Michael Kramer said:
“With the determination and leadership of the workers and students we have won an agreement that will be life-changing for our members and impactful in their communities. It raises the standard for campus food service workers across Boston whose value and importance in the university community is often forgotten.”

Northeastern dining worker and bargaining committee member Angela Bello said:
“I am so proud of what we accomplished. It’s amazing to feel the power that workers have when we get together and are well organized. The ways this contract will impact our lives is almost hard to believe. Thank you to everyone who supported us and believed in us.”

Second year Northeastern Law student Keally Cieslik said:
“Hearing the news that the workers negotiated a contract they are satisfied with is simply thrilling. Organizing alongside Northeastern’s food service workers and Local 26 has been one of the best experiences of my life.”

UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang said:
“Our union fights so that our members can have their fair share of the wealth they create. Last year that meant we struck Harvard University for 22 days. This week we threatened to do the same at Northeastern. Next on the list are the 34 Boston hotels where contracts expire in 2018. We commend the Northeastern administration for agreeing to a new standard for dining hall workers in the Boston area that includes $35,000 annual income, affordable health care, and retirement.”

###
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 8, 2017
Contact: Tiffany Ten Eyck, tteneyck@local26.org, 313-515-1807

IMG_1431

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.

###
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