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Northeastern dining hall workers vote to authorize strike

By staff

Will strike Oct. 11 if no resolution

Boston, MA – Northeastern University dining hall workers voted 316 yes to 2 no on Oct. 4 to authorize a strike. They additionally announced that if no resolution is reached by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10, they will strike. Picket lines would begin in the early morning hours of Oct. 11.

Inspired by the 22-day strike at Harvard University last fall, Northeastern workers are calling for the same two core demands: the ability to earn at least $35,000 a year for full-time work and affordable health care.

The average Northeastern food service worker made less than $22,000 last year, well below Boston’s median income of $35,000 a year. Because of this gap, many workers qualify for and rely on public assistance like low-income housing, food stamps and Mass Health.

“I am currently facing eviction from low-income housing in Boston, and I work full time at Northeastern,” said food service worker Roxanna Santana. “My daughter wants to go to college next year, but how can I possibly afford that when I am unable to save anything for my family's future?”

Also Oct. 4, the Boston City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the workers. More than 40 student groups have joined a coalition backing food service workers’ demands.

“I support dining service workers' call for dignity and justice in the cafeterias,” said second-year Northeastern law student Keally Cieslik. “3$5,000 a year and affordable health insurance are reasonable asks that a university like Northeastern should be proud to agree to. It's the right thing to do.”

“When I first came to Northeastern, the first people that made me feel like I was at home were dining hall workers in Stetson East. They make my day,” said second-year Northeastern student Rebeca Muñoz. “I'm here supporting them the same way that they have supported me every day.”

“We will continue negotiating this week with hopes of reaching a resolution that meets our modest demands,” said food service worker Angela Bello. “We can’t continue to live with what we earn as food service workers at Northeastern. If it’s going to take a strike to wake up Northeastern administrators to this crisis, we’ll put down our utensils and pick up picket signs next Wednesday.”

“It is shameful that workers at a multi-million dollar institution in the heart of Boston must make personal sacrifices to win the basics,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 Lead Negotiator Michael Kramer. “Northeastern administration doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo that poverty wages on campus are abhorrent to students, faculty and the surrounding communities. Northeastern needs to step up.”

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