Teamsters say U of M policy punishes dining workers who use earned sick time

Brian Aldes, Local 320's principal officer, leads a rally at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Brian Aldes, Local 320’s principal officer, leads a rally at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.


On the steps of Morrill Hall Tuesday, front-line staff at the University of Minnesota rallied with other U of M workers, including faculty members seeking a union vote, to protest an attendance policy that, workers say, unfairly disciplines them for getting sick.

Teamsters Local 320, which organized the rally, represents food-service workers at the university who, according to the union, face automatic discipline for exceeding a threshold of three unscheduled “occurrences,” the university’s term for unforeseen uses of sick leave.

The local has filed 30 grievances seeking to rescind disciplinary actions, including one against a dining-hall worker sent home after vomiting.

Brian Aldes, Local 320’s principal officer, said no worker should face discipline for using their earned sick time. “We’re not going away,” he said at the rally. “We’re going to keep the heat up on the U of M.”

Students, researchers and members of other unions joined the rally in solidarity with Local 320 members. Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner called food-service workers’ access to sick leave “a public health issue,” and Geoffrey Rojas, president of the U’s Postdoctoral Association, said sick time is essential for workers with disabilities or chronic health issues “in order to be productive at work.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Debra Hillstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center), a U of M graduate, took the opportunity to show her support for another of Local 320’s campaigns. “I would be proud to have a university that paid everyone a $15 minimum wage,” she said.

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