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Workers at the University of Minnesota plan picket protesting low wages, greenwashing

Custodians, dining workers, gardeners, and several other service workers are demanding an end to low wages, homelessness, discrimination and greenwashing.

MINNEAPOLIS — Hundreds of college students are moving on to campus at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday, while workers for the U host an informational picket. 

Scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Tuesday and run through 5 p.m. at Centennial Hall on the Minneapolis campus, custodians, dining workers, gardeners, and several other service workers are demanding an end to low wages, homelessness, and discrimination. 

According to a post on social media from Teamsters Local 320, picketers propose a new pay scale with a $20/hour starting wage, and a 5% increase for "people at the top." They're asking for year-round work for people working in the dining halls, no favoritism for new workers over employees who have been at the U for years, and a greener campus, with input from union members and leaders about improving training and sustainability standards. 

A recent survey of University of Minnesota workers found that 61% said they don't earn enough money to cover their basic expenses every month. Nine percent said they had been homeless at least once while working at the U.

"We are tired of being treated like trash by an employer that has record revenues," the social media post reads. "We need Teamster workers, students, faculty, and community to take action and join us on the picket line."

The University of Minnesota issued the following statement:

"The University values the work of Teamsters 320 members and we hope to quickly reach an agreement that will allow us to attract, retain, and engage a diverse workforce. We are proud to offer competitive wages and meaningful benefits in addition to creating a culture where employees can be their best.

The University will continue to bargain in good faith with our labor represented employees. As part of the contract negotiation process, union members and representatives have the right to express their views through public demonstrations. The University anticipates demonstrations will be peaceful, as they have been in the past."

A spokesperson for the university said they are currently in mediation talks with the Teamsters Local 320, and additional meetings with the Minnesota Bureau of Medication Services are scheduled. 

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