Dining hall workers at Tufts University voted Thursday to authorize a strike as contract negotiations pass the eight-month mark, according to Unite Here Local 26. If a strike is called, 175 cashiers, dishwashers, grill cooks, bakers, and sous chefs will walk off the job in a fight for higher wages, lower healthcare costs, and better job protections.
Nearly a third of the workers are classified as temps, including one who has been there for 14 years, Local 26 said, and the union is seeking to make them full-time employees, with equal wages and job security.
The dining hall workers joined Local 26 last April and are seeking similar benefits to unionized dining hall workers at MIT, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and several smaller schools.
In 2016, Harvard food service employees went on strike for nearly three weeks and won a minimum full-time annual salary of $35,000 and compensation for employees who are laid off during the summer. The following year, Northeastern dining hall workers narrowly avoided a strike and also won a $35,000 minimum.
Last fall, Marriott workers represented by Local 26 went on strike for more than six weeks and, in addition to getting substantial wage and pension increases and paid parental leave, were granted wide-ranging job protections, including a five-year job guarantee for immigrants if their protected status is revoked and an alert system for housekeepers in case of an assault.