Hastings school food service workers continue to strike

Valentine’s Day marked exactly one week of striking for the Hastings Schools food service workers, with SEIU Local 284 workers picketing outside Hastings Middle School Tuesday.

RELATED: Hastings schools food service workers begin strike Tuesday

The union represents 35 workers who say they are bargaining for fair wage increases, more stable hours, and health insurance benefits.

The union said striking employees received letters Friday that said the district was ending healthcare for the workers, citing “end of employment” as the reason.

The Executive Director of the SEIU Local 284 called the letters a scare tactic and said the union was pushing for clarification.

The district told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that striking workers are not entitled to pay and benefits while on strike. The statement from the Superintendent reads in full:

Striking workers are not entitled to continue receiving pay and benefits from the District while they are on strike.  The District did send COBRA information last week to provide notification that employees would lose coverage, beginning March 1, 2023, through the District while they are on strike.  The union was aware the District would be sending out COBRA notices. The purpose of the COBRA notices was to notify striking employees who are receiving health insurance coverage through the District that not working due to a strike means they are not eligible to continue receiving District health insurance benefits and to advise them of their right to continue coverage at their own expense as provided by law. The attached Q&A document was provided to Food Service employees for informational purposes before they went on strike.  This document was shared with the Food Service group on January 26, 2023, so it should not have been a surprise to any of them that the District sent out COBRA notices last week. I am aware that the union is suggesting today that the District has “fired” striking workers.  That claim is simply false.  As to the union’s claims today that the District is attempting to “intimidate” striking workers, the District’s response is that it is not intimidation to notify striking workers that going on strike will affect their benefits and to provide them with information about how to continue coverage at their own expense. 

Hastings Public Schools

Bargaining between the district and the union for Hastings food service workers has been happening since June 9.

RELATED: Hastings Public Schools cafeteria workers authorize strike