Teamsters Threaten U of M Strike in Move that Could Have Super Bowl Ramifications

January 08, 2018 10:37 PM

Service employees of Minnesota Teamsters Local 320 are in final-hour contract talks with the University of Minnesota, and union leaders say they will encourage members to vote down any contract offer that does not meet salary demands.

Meanwhile, the National Football League Players Association has issued a letter of support for the union, going so far as to say it might not have scheduled Super Bowl-related activities at the university if it was aware of the ongoing contract dispute.

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Contract talks between Local 320 and the U of M were still underway at state mediation offices late Monday night. Local 320 Secretary/Treasurer Brian Aldes said anything less than the union's demands of a 2 percent wage increase in each of the next two years will likely be rejected by the local's 1,500 members.

"The wage increase is the major sticking point, and we intend to stay with that demand," Aldes said. "And, if the U of M's offer stays at one-and-a-quarter percent over each of the next two years, there is a good chance members will vote to strike during the Super Bowl."

Service employees handle building and grounds maintenance at U of M campuses, food service, janitorial service and elevator maintenance, as well.

There are several Super Bowl activities scheduled at the university, and one of the two teams playing in the game was expected to practice at the university's indoor football facilities.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith sent a letter to U of M President Eric Kaler showing support for Local 320 members in their contract talks. He wrote that "a strike is a very real possibility."

Smith's letter also said the NFLPA would not have entered into contracts with the U of M to host some of the players' union events at campus facilities if the players union had known contract talks with Local 320 had stalled.

The university had not responded to requests for comment late Monday.

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Jay Kolls

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