Dining workers voted to authorize a strike yesterday by a substantial margin of 137 to 17, according to a press release sent to the Daily by UNITE HERE Local 26, the union which represents the workers. The vote gives the workers’ bargaining committee the authority to call a strike at any time according to the release, but no such announcement has been made yet. “After eight months of negotiations for their first union contract, Tufts University administrators potentially face the first strike at a Boston-area university since the 2016 Harvard Dining Hall Workers Strike,” the release says. In an email titled "Possible Changes in Tufts' Dining Serices [sic] Operations," sent to the Tufts community on Thursday afternoon, senior Tufts administration officials including University President Anthony Monaco and Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell wrote that Tufts Dining Services has developed a strike contingency plan to continue to feed students in the event that the bargaining committee calls a strike. As they leave campus for spring break, the officials assured students that the university will notify students of any changes to operations and that the Tufts Dining Services website will have updated information on any changes in services. The email also marked senior administration officials’ first direct response to the negotiations since they began in August. The officials wrote that the union and the university had made much progress in the talks and that they wanted an “equitable agreement” to be reached soon. The vote follows an eight-hour negotiation session on Wednesday in which the two sides could not reach an agreement, according to Patrick Collins, Tufts' executive director of public relations. According to Collins, the two parties completed three rounds of proposals and counterproposals focusing on the economic issues that have been the key sticking points in the negotiations: wages, healthcare and the status of workers on temporary contracts. “ These new proposals represent substantial investment in the University’s dining employees, including lowering healthcare premiums for families by hundreds of dollars per month and increasing the wages of our lowest paid dining employees by approximately 20 percent over a four-year period,” Collins said in an email to the Daily. Collins said that the union declined to respond to the university's third counterproposal, ending negotiations for that day.
As it stands, @TuftsUniversity one of the richest universities in Massachusetts but many of us have to work two jobs or spend nearly half our paycheck on healthcare. This needs to change. #1u#UnbreakableAtTuftspic.twitter.com/Nj8XD7vmax— UNITE HERE Local 26 (@UNITEHERE26) March 14, 2019
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