Food service workers ratify contract with Hastings Public Schools, ending 6-week strike

Food service employees at Hastings Public Schools reached an agreement on a new contract Thursday, ending a strike that lasted more than six weeks.

The 35 workers represented by SEIU Local 284 will receive wage increases and yearly $800 bonus payments, and the school district will maintain its contribution to the employees’ health insurance.

“While this agreement does not reflect what we feel we are worth, our struggle for recognition and respect took a big step forward because of our solidarity,” said Sara Rapp, a food service worker at Hastings High School. “Now we have a better contract than we otherwise would have gotten without our fight. Hourly school workers across the state are fighting to win more for staff and students, and our strike was an important part of that fight.”

According to Hastings Public Schools, the district and union representatives held bargaining sessions Wednesday and Thursday, and union members ratified the contract on Friday.

“While the process has been long, and both sides engaged in what they felt they needed to do in the best interest of their respective organizations, the District has shifted its focus to the future,” the school district said in a statement Friday.

Employees first went on strike on Feb. 7, and they’re set to return to work on Thursday.