U of M service workers urge lawmakers to pass bill providing unemployment benefits during summer

Unionized service workers at the University of Minnesota are urging state lawmakers to pass a bill that would provide unemployment benefits to service workers during the summer months.

Currently, employees at academic institutions aren’t allowed to file for unemployment, even if they don’t have work in the summer.

A group of service workers represented by Teamsters Local 320 talked Wednesday after claiming the university isn’t honoring its agreement to provide year-round work for all dining workers.

Mick Kelly, one of the bargaining committee members, said, “Historically, the University used to put us at work… as custodians and other jobs around campus, and that was how we worked in the summer. The University promised to bring back those jobs, and when we got to the implementation point, they failed to do so.”

The university says the agreement ratified by the union in October doesn’t have a guarantee and only states the university will try to provide as much year-round as possible “with a minimum of 30 hours per week for 12-month appointments who select and are awarded positions during the summer.” The university added that it expects to have 95 summer opportunities this summer for 12-month employees but the agreement doesn’t guarantee work for employees on nine-month appointments.