Teamsters, University of Minnesota reach tentative deal, avoiding strikes in Twin Cities and Duluth

Union members are set to vote on the new agreement in the next few weeks. It includes a $20 minimum wage for union members and at least 13% pay hikes over the next three years.

University of Minnesota Duluth and Lake Superior
An aerial view of the University of Minnesota Duluth campus and Lake Superior.
Contributed / UMD
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A union of University of Minnesota service workers has reached tentative terms on a new contract with university management, veering both sides away from a strike late next week.

Teamsters Local 320, which represents about 1,500 cooks, mechanics, custodians, and other workers across the school’s five campuses, including about 150 at UMD, reached a three-year agreement with university negotiators around 2 a.m. on Saturday morning.

The agreement presumably avoids a strike, which union officials had scheduled for Oct. 26 at the university’s Twin Cities headquarters and Oct. 29 at UMD.

Teamsters members, who overwhelmingly authorized the strike earlier this month, are set to vote on the new contract over the next few weeks. If they OK the deal, it would then head to the U’s Board of Regents for approval.

By an overwhelming margin, Teamsters Local 320 members at all five campuses agreed to the action. Union leaders plan to file notice with the state and university.

“We are pleased to reach an equitable settlement that fairly compensates our Teamsters employees,” university system staff wrote Saturday . Communications staff at the university's Twin Cities headquarters did not have further comment.


The new agreement includes a $20 minimum wage for union members, according to Brian Aldes, the union’s secretary treasurer and principal officer. That was foremost among the provisions union members sought at the bargaining table.

“That was the biggie,” Aldes told the News Tribune.

The new contract, on balance, will increase union members’ wages by at least 13% over the next three years, Aldes claimed, and preserves language that would have waived state-mandated negotiations on health insurance in future contracts.

Aldes said he hopes those wage increases keep pace with inflation.

“We all know that the Consumer Price Index and inflationary rates are high. There’s no doubt that the members could have used wage increases that were higher or…ensure that they keep pace with the rate of inflation,” he said. “But whatever there was to bargain for, the Teamsters got.”

This story was updated at 8:25 p.m. on Oct. 22 to indicate the University of Minnesota declined further comment. It was originally posted at 3:40 p.m.

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

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