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Unions victorious after year-long battle against Mayo Clinic

By staff

Rochester, MN – Members of SEIU Healthcare MN, AFSCME Council 65 and Teamsters 120 have spent the last year in a battle with Mayo Clinic. It started with Mayo’s surprise announcement in July 2016 that they would subcontract Mayo food service workers out to Morrison Food Services starting in 2017. The affected food service workers are employed at Mayo’s southern Minnesota locations in Rochester, Albert Lea Austin and Fairmont.

Upon finding out Mayo’s plan to subcontract them out to an out-of-state corporation after decades of working hard as Mayo employees, the workers decided they needed to fight back. They launched a coordinated fight to say “we need good jobs at the Mayo.” In the end, they could not legally stop Mayo from subcontracting them, but the workers were determined to win a contract with Morrison, their new employer, which did not contain major concessions and moved them forward with a contract that keeps good jobs in Rochester and across the Mayo system.

The Mayo food service workers organized in the community to let people know what Mayo was doing, and that they were only doing it to make more money off of the backs of their employees and off the backs of the community that is paying increased property taxes and state taxes to allow Mayo to continue expanding and increasing its profits. At the same time as that workers were making these changes, Mayo announced that they were closing down or moving out much-needed patient services, like the birth center in some of their facilities, which will cause many of Mayo’s workers and the surrounding community to lose services.

These fights culminated in large pickets in Rochester which brought out the majority of the Mayo food service workers as well as hundreds from the community.

Seeing these workers do whatever it took and fight for what they deserve was an inspiration for anyone to behold. One group of non-union food service workers in another area of the Mayo decided they wanted to join the union too. Last fall over 100 more workers voted yes by an 89% majority and joined SEIU Healthcare MN and merged bargaining units to become part of the SEIU Food Service Bargaining Unit.

Now, a year later, because of their strength and resolve, the Mayo food service workers have reached a tentative agreement with Morrison in which there are no major concessions and in fact the workers will be getting raises that vary in size from 12.5% to 42% over the life of a 5-year contract. The newly organized workers fared especially well, with many getting raises of as much as several dollars effective immediately upon ratification.

In addition to raises, the workers won better healthcare than they had before and a guaranteed contribution 401k in which the employer must deposit 50 cents for every hour an employee works with no contribution required form the employee.

Most importantly they won good strong language in their contract and have built the power they need to move forward and go up from here in future bargaining. They won all of these improvements because they organized and showed the boss they would not back down. Because they were so organized they did not end up having to strike but it was clear to all that they could have if they needed to.

Ratification votes are being held over the next week and the contract is expected to pass overwhelmingly.

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