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

Boston Globe: Northeastern dining hall workers vote to authorize strike

Dining Hall Workers at Northeastern University Announce Strike Vote, Prepare for Potential Strike

For Immediate Release  September 20, 2017                                                                   

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

More than 300 have already workers pledged to vote to strike

BOSTON, MA—Inspired by last October’s strike at Harvard University, food service workers at Northeastern University announced tonight they have called for a strike vote on October 4. At the event, they unveiled a photo display of the more than 300 workers that have already pledged to vote “yes” to strike if necessary.

Workers, who are members of UNITE HERE Local 26, have been in negotiations since April in hopes of reaching an agreement on a new contract. Negotiations will continue throughout the month.

“Northeastern is ignoring the crisis of poverty that many of us face,” said food service worker Angela Bello. “Too many of us who work full time at Northeastern University are not paid enough to live with dignity. ”

Northeastern dining hall workers are making the same demands that led to a 22-day strike at Harvard University: the ability to earn at least $35,000 a year for full-time work and affordable health care. The average dining worker at Northeastern made less than $22,000 last year. Many qualify for and rely on public assistance such as low-income housing, “food stamps,” and Mass Health.

“With what Northeastern pays me, I can’t afford to pay for the academic programs my 11-year old daughter needs, or for her to have her own bedroom apart from her two younger siblings,” said food service worker Shante McCorvey. “We live in low-income housing and every day is a struggle.”

“It’s unconscionable that dining service workers at such a prestigious Boston institution as Northeastern University must rely on welfare to get by,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “Our members are insisting upon the sum of $35,000 a year for full time work and affordable healthcare. We hope that Northeastern will find its way to support this modest proposal without a strike.”

“We interact with dining hall workers every single day, and we know how hard they work,” said Jessica Dampier, a third year Psychology major. “It’s important to me that we use our power as students to support all members of the Northeastern community. This is our university, and we demand that it treats every worker with respect and dignity.”

Ed Note:

Campaign video available here: https://www.facebook.com/uniteherelocal26/videos/1231538220285830

Photos and raw video from tonight’s event available upon request.

VIDEO: What Boston does for Northeastern

Watch and share this video about Local 26 members at Northeastern University.

Important Update on the Harvard Strike

“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative agreement with Harvard University that our Bargaining Committee believes addresses all of the concerns of our more than 700 members on strike. Our strike will continue until all members on strike have a chance to review the agreement and vote to ratify. We will disclose details of the agreement after this vote on Wednesday.” – UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang

 

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