By Selma El-Badawi*
Teamsters Local 320 Priorities
Every day, I walk past and through University of Minnesota facilities, all carefully maintained by UMN’s service workers. UMN’s service workers are members of Teamsters Local 320, a big-tent labor union that represents Minnesota public and law enforcement employees. Approximately 1,400 UMN staff members, or 5.7 percent of UMN employees, are Teamsters. Teamsters Local 320 workers work in “food services, facilities, land care, housing, and other units.” In June 2022, the Teamsters began negotiating with the University of Minnesota for a new contract.
The Teamsters presented six main priorities for a new contract: 1) 20 dollars per hour minimum wage; 2) five percent increase at the top of the pay scale; 3) cost of living increases; 4) summer work for dining staff; 5) health insurance protection; and 6) ending favoritism and the “hiring in steps” process. First, prior to the new contract, the minimum wage for members of Teamsters 320 was $15.93 per hour. Considering the economic hardships that many UMN workers face, an increase to $20 per hour could provide some reprieve. Second, a five percent increase at the top of the pay scale would provide the most senior workers with otherwise stagnating pay increases an incentive to stay at UMN. Third, cost of living increases would allow the pay to better reflect the rising price of living in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Fourth, summer work for dining staff would mean that dining employees remain employed all year round. Prior to the new contract, dining hall workers lost many work hours, every summer. The Teamsters are proposing that these workers would be temporarily reassigned to other departments over the summer to maintain their number of hours. Fifth, “protecting health insurance” would ensure that any proposed changes to the health insurance policy must go through the Teamsters for bargaining. Finally, ending favoritism and “hiring in steps” would mean that any raises, promotions, or other types of preferential treatment would be allocated in order of seniority. In the “hiring in steps” process, UMN would be able to hire new employees at higher levels of the pay step system. Thus, an employee hired at step five would immediately earn more than current employees in any of the lower steps. This is not UMN’s current hiring strategy, nor has it ever been a previous hiring strategy. Hiring steps was a new proposal by UMN for the 2022 contract.
University of Minnesota’s “Last and Final Offer”
On October 7th, 2022, UMN’s Vice President of Human Resources, Kenneth E. Horstman, sent a “last and final offer” to the Teamsters, in addition to all UMN faculty, students, and staff. Horstman described the offer as follows:
Our latest offer includes an average wage increase of over 5% for Teamsters employees (3.85% across-the-board plus additional increases for specific job categories through department funds). The offer brings the average Teamsters hourly starting wage to nearly $21.67 an hour, a 7.3% increase. This does not include step increases or take into account our offer of a one-time lump sum payment of $500 for those at the top of their pay scales.
Following this offer, Local 320 released their own statement, rejecting the offer and condemning UMN’s alleged union busting. UMN’s offer failed for the Teamsters on several fronts: first, as noted in the Teamsters’ response, a 5% average increase falls short of the 8.26% inflation rate at the time of the offer. In addition, it is only an average increase of 5%—many workers would only receive the 3.85% minimum increase. Second, UMN’s $21.67 per hour wage is an average; while some workers would be earning more than that, half of the covered workers would be earning less. Third, the proposed $500 lump sum payment does not come close to the Teamsters’ proposed 5% increase. With the top earning full-time Teamsters making $25.14 an hour, amounting to $1005.60 per week without overtime, a $500 payment would represent a .9% increase in their salary.
What the Teamsters Got
On November 4, 2022, Local 320 voted to approve a new proposed contract. With a total of 802 votes, painstakingly counted on a Facebook Live video, 670 votes were cast for “yes” and 132 for “no,” meeting the 50 percent threshold required to ratify a tentative agreement.
This new contract lasts over the course of three years, backdated from July 1, 2022 until July 1,2025. In the first year, the contract requires the “implementation of new pay scales with a $20/hour minimum wage and 5% increases at the top, as well as market adjustments for many job classifications.” At the second year, the contract requires “market adjustments or a 4% cost-of-living increase, whichever is greater.” Finally, for the third year, the contract requires a “4% cost-of-living increase for everybody. . . [which] would increase if the Board of Regents approved a higher budget.” Historically, most Teamsters 320 contacts take place over the course of two years, though the 2021 contract covered a single year.
As mentioned, the new contract also includes a $20 per hour minimum wage and five percent increase for top earners, which match the union’s first two priorities. Twenty-six job classifications will receive market adjustments of five percent or greater for employees at the top step of the pay scale in the first and second years of the contract. All other jobs will receive the aforementioned four percent increases in the first and second years of the contract, as well as a 3.85 percent increase in the first year. This provision comes as a concession by the Teamsters and follows the language of UMN’s previous offer to them.
Next, the new contract guarantees a minimum of 30 hours per week for all 12-month UMN dining employees over the summer. This fulfills the fourth priority for the Teamsters. Using a round system based on seniority and subsequent preferences, dining employees will work for other on-campus departments during the summer.
Juneteenth, commemorating the actual end of chattel slavery in the United States, was designated as a paid holiday for 2023 and 2024. Its designation for 2025 depends on whether the UMN Board of Regents decides to recognize it as an official holiday for the broader university.
Next, the new contract states that if UMN begins offering mass transit passes for other Twin Cities employees, they must also offer them to union workers. This section is somewhat diminished by the fact that the university does not currently offer other employees mass transit passes. While this could change in the future, the proposal is largely moot.
Next, the Teamsters will be given one seat on the Twin Cities Campus Sustainability Committee and one seat on the Twin Cities Campus Waste Committee. Because waste management is operated by the Teamsters, this will allow the workers most affected by the Committees’ work a voice on said committee. Additionally, the Teamsters and UMN agreed to work together in forming a 10-person Job Posting Workgroup. As stated in the contract, “[t]his group shall meet and make recommendations to the Senior Director of Employee and Labor Relations for posting jobs to maximize opportunities for both internal and external candidates. These recommendations shall be made no later than June 30, 2023.” UMN also agreed to drop its “hiring in steps” plan, in accordance with the Teamsters’ sixth priority.
The contract also provides a raise to employees who meet advanced licensing standards in specific roles. Chief of Record or Master of Record employees will receive an extra $1.00 per hour, while working in each respective role. This is a $0.50 improvement from the previous contract. Similarly, Project Squad Building and Grounds workers will get an additional $0.50 per hour while working in their project squad role. The new contact also expanded pay for on-call workers. Under the contract, any worker who is on-call will get paid for a quarter of the time they are on-call for, up to six hours for each full day on call.
On December 15, 2022, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents unanimously approved the Teamsters 320 collective bargaining agreement. The new pay rates will be processed during the January 2 – 15, 2023, payroll period and back pay will be processed during the January 16 – 29, 2023, payroll period.
As a University of Minnesota student and employee, the equitable employment of my fellow UMN workers has great significance. Under this new contract, progress will hopefully be made.
 Teamsters Local 320, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/teamsters.local.320 (last visited Nov 18, 2022).
 Ken Horstman, Update on negotiations with Teamsters 320, Univ. of Minn. Off. of Hum. Res. (2022), https://hr.umn.edu/Update-negotiations-Teamsters-320 (last visited Nov 29, 2022).
 Teamsters Local 320, Teamsters Local 320 Tentative Agreement with University of Minnesota Overview with Q and A., (2022), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZiBChAS3qo (last visited Nov 27, 2022).
 Teamsters Wages 2021, https://media.linkedunion.com/teamsters320/file-manager/Teamsters%20Wages%202021.pdf (last visited Nov 29, 2022). Store Specialists earn $15.92 as a minimum wage, though this may be a transcription error. $15.93 is the minimum wage for the following positions: Senior Cashier/Food Aide, Attendant, Senior Attendant, Laborer, Guard, Building and Grounds Worker, Maritime Worker 1, Parking Attendant, Senior Parking Attendant, Laboratory Attendant, Senior Laboratory Attendant, Food Service Worker, Senior Food Service Worker, Baker, Junior Cashier/Food Aide, Intercollegiate Athl Equp Wrkr [sic], Library Bookbinder, and Utility Worker.
 See e.g., Gillian Haveman, UMN dining staff receive “poverty wages,” contributes to poor service, union says, Minn. Daily (2022), https://mndaily.com/273851/news/umn-dining-staff-receive-poverty-wages-contributes-to-poor-service-union-says/ (last visited Nov 29, 2022) (“A survey Teamsters conducted in July indicated 458 current and former University employees have struggled to afford basic necessities while working at the University. . . The survey reports 61% of current University service workers do not earn enough to pay for basic expenses. In the past year, 22% reported going hungry and not eating because they could not afford food. More than 8% of those surveyed reported being homeless at least once while working for the University.”).
 Without considering any other proposed salary increases, this would raise Step 4 Attendants (the lowest paid workers at the top of their respective classification’s pay scale) from $17.76 per hour to $18.65 per hour. Teamsters Wages 2021, supra note 6.
 See Haveman, supra note 7.
 Curt Swenson, University of Minnesota Bargaining Unit Strike Authorization Vote (2022), https://media.linkedunion.com/teamsters320/file-manager/UMN%20Strike%20Auth%20Cover%20Letter.pdf.
 Horstman, supra note 2.
 Brian Aldes, TEAMSTERS LOCAL 320 RELEASES STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA’S EMAIL, Teamsters Local 320 (2022), https://www.teamsterslocal320.org/news-details/news/TEAMSTERS-LOCAL-320-RELEASES-STATEMENT-IN-RESPONSE-TO-THE-UNIVERSITY-OF-MINNESOTAS-EMAIL/20366/58321 (last visited Nov 18, 2022).
 Haveman, supra note 7.
 Teamsters Local 320, University of Minnesota Tentative Agreement Ballot Count, Facebook (Nov. 3, 2022), https://www.facebook.com/teamsters.local.320/videos/university-of-minnesota-tentative-agreement-ballot-count/403843371818771/.
 Teamsters Local 320, supra note 5.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 23.
 Teamsters Local 320, supra note 5.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 4. That list of job classifications, with each respective market increase is as follows: Senior Cashier/Food Aide, 5.00%; Attendant, 7.04%; Sr. Attendant, 10.02%; Stores Specialist, 5.00%; Senior Building & Grounds Worker, 5.03%; Athletic Grounds Worker, 14.81%; Building & Grounds Worker, 5.00%; Mechanic 2, 5.00%; Senior Maintenance Equipment Operator, 5.00%; Assistant Gardener, 5.00%; Gardener, 5.48%; Senior Operating Engineer, 8.31%; Principal Operating Engineer, 8.30%; Mechanic 3, 5.00%; Laboratory Attendant, 5.00%; Laboratory Animal Attendant, 10.04%; Food Service Worker, 5.00%; Senior Food Service Worker, 5.00%; Senior Gardener, 6.11%; Heavy Equipment Mechanic, 5.00%; Junior Cashier/Food Aide, 5.00%; Intercollegiate Athletics Equipment Worker, 5.00%; Maintenance Equipment Operator, 7.87%; Senior Utility Worker, 5.00%; Delivery Service Driver, 6.01%; and Utility Worker, 5.00%.
 Supra note 17, §§ 2, 21-23.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 12.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 1.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 13.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 15.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 16.
 Teamsters Local 320, supra note 5.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 8.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 7.
 Tentative Agreement Summary, supra note 17, at § 19 (“An employee is in an on-call status if their supervisor has instructed the employee, in writing, to remain available to work during an off duty period. An employee who is instructed to be in an on-call status is not required to remain in a fixed location but must leave word where they may be reached immediately by telephone. . . .No employee can be assigned to on-call status for a period of less than eight (8) hours.”).
 U OF MN TWIN CITIES, Teamsters Local 320 (2022), https://www.teamsterslocal320.org/member-discount/U-OF-MN-TWIN-CITIES/U-OF-MN-TWIN-CITIES/1001908/details/23357 (last visited Dec 22, 2022).
* Staff Member for JLI Vol. 41, University of Minnesota Law School Class of 2024.