Dining hall workers accuse University of Minnesota of breaching contract

Service workers represented by Teamsters Local 320 at the University of Minnesota (UMN) are set to hold a press conference on Wednesday at Pioneer Hall regarding the University’s alleged breach of contract, according to a news release from the union.

Teamsters said they negotiated a contract in November 2022 that ensured dining workers received 12 months of employment, compared to the previous nine-month contracts that Teamsters say left employees financially struggling for the remaining three months of the year.

The news release states that UMN agreed to provide 160 jobs for at least 30 hours each week in order to employ Teamsters service workers who are seeking summer jobs.

The union claims the contract states that “In order to keep more of these employees working, other departments will also offer summer work for dining staff to select.”

Teamsters Local 320 said that last week the UMN informed them they would only be providing a fraction of the 160 jobs, contradicting what was agreed to during negotiations.

According to Minnesota unemployment law, workers employed by an academic institution are ineligible to apply for unemployment over the summer. A bill that would change the unemployment requirements for academic employees is currently working its way through the House.

The union is set to hold a news conference on the matter at noon on Wednesday.

The university’s Office of Human Resources provided the following statement Tuesday evening:

The University and the Teamsters Local 320 reached a tentative three-year agreement in October 2022. It was later approved by Teamster represented employees and then also ratified and approved by the Board of Regents. The agreement included a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), addressing many scenarios, including summer work for Dining employees in the Twin Cities. The University’s “goal is to provide as much work as possible year round with a minimum of 30 hours per week for 12-month appointments who select and are awarded positions during the summer.” (pg. 61 of MOU) The University anticipates having approximately 95 opportunities this summer with a guarantee of 30 hours per week for selected employees working in 12-month positions in Dining. 

The MOU does not reference or guarantee work for Dining employees on a 9-month appointment, an appointment utilized for many University positions that coincides with peak demand for academic year services. The length of an employee’s appointment is shared in job offer letters and reviewed during new employee orientation. 

The University recently shared instructions on how Dining employees on a 12-month appointment may select their preferred shift and location for the summer. These shifts will help meet needs on campus while providing year-round work for select employees on a 12-month appointment. The University will also offer an on-call option for those not awarded summer work but who are interested in summer hours.

University of Minnesota Office of Human Resources