Strike Enters Week 2

On Monday, Feb. 13th, starting at 9:00 AM, SEIU Local 284 food service workers in Hastings ISD 200 began the second week of their strike for a fair contract. According to a press release issued by the union, the striking workers remain united in the face of the district sending out letters Friday that said they were ending healthcare for the workers, citing “End of Employment” as the reason. The press release states that it is illegal to fire striking workers under Minnesota public sector labor law and the members who have paid into their health insurance should have access to their benefits through the end of the month. The union is pushing for clarification and is ready to take any and all actions to stop any intimidation of the workers. Kelly Gibbons, the Executive Director of SEIU Local 284, shared why this scare tactic won’t stop these essential workers from winning a contract that supports their work feeding Hastings students, saying, “The district should be coming to the table to find a fair deal to get these incredible workers back on the job feeding Hastings students. Instead they are sending letters that are misleading and possibly even illegal, hoping to scare our members into accepting a contract. If the Superintendent isn’t willing to do his job, state leaders and the School Board need to step in and be the adults in the room”. Superintendent Dr. Robert McDowell said in a statement that “Striking workers are not entitled to continue receiving pay and benefits from the District while they are on strike”, adding that “the District did send COBRA information to provide notification that employees would lose coverage, beginning March 1, 2023, through the District while they are on strike”. McDowell also said that the union was aware the District would be sending out COBRA notices, and he is aware that the union is suggesting that the District has “fired” striking workers, which McDowell says is “simply false”. There will be picket lines in the morning from 9 to 10:30 AM, and again from 2 to 4 PM the afternoon.

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