Minneapolis Public Schools food service workers vote to authorize strike

Minneapolis Public Schools food service workers voted to authorize a strike on Wednesday, with 98.5% of the 200 union members voting in favor.

Union members would have to file a 10-day notice in advance of a potential strike.

Service Employees International Union Local 284, which represents the workers, states the workers have been working under an expired contract for nearly two years.

RELATED: Food service workers for Minneapolis schools to hold strike authorization vote

Workers are asking for higher pay and improved working conditions. They also say they are not eligible for the same employment benefits in the summer when they don’t work because so many employees are part-time.

They also held a rally Wednesday afternoon in northeast Minneapolis.

Tilly Gitchuway, a 26-year veteran of Minneapolis Public Schools, said the work she and her fellow food service workers do needs to be recognized.

“Our work is important,” she said. “We come in every day with a smile and make sure they have the food they need because we love our kids. It is important for the children to be able to learn and grow from the nutritious meals we provide. That’s why we voted yes.”

MPS issued the following statement Wednesday:

Minneapolis Public Schools’ food service workers are essential partners who serve daily meals to our 29,000+ students. While MPS was in distance learning, our food service workers showed up to work every day to prepare and hand out boxed meals to our students and families who needed them. Throughout the pandemic, they selflessly worked on the frontline. We praised them as heroes then, and we continue to praise them as heroes now.

MPS is committed to reaching an agreement through our upcoming mediation sessions to ensure meal access for students is not interrupted and that our food service workers are fairly and adequately compensated.

Minneapolis Public Schools

Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates.