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Strike looms at University of Minnesota campuses

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CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) -- A statewide strike could be imminent as university leaders and employees square off.

WDAZ's Kenneth Chase takes us to Crookston where students are sounding off.

It's here at the University of Minnesota where nearly forty employees could soon go on strike. A lot of them work in dining services and as custodians. They say they want fair pay in order to take care of their families.

Ryan Ratcliff, sophomore student, “I actually know quite a bit of them well just because I eat there a lot.”

University of Minnesota Crookston is small, almost like family for Ryan Ratcliff.

"I often times take a couple minutes to talk to them. They're very hard working. Every time I see them they're always doing the best thing they can do to make Brown as good as it can be," says Ratcliff.  

The staff at Brown Dining Hall along with other employees haven't received a raise in over two years, according to their union representative.

Brian Aldes, Teamsters Local 320, "They need to be able to be competitive in the economy. They need to be able to consume. They need to be able to provide for themselves that their families and be contributors to their communities."

If the university doesn't agree to a raise, they say they'll go on strike.

Leaving the five campuses with fifteen hundred fewer helping hands.

"If they're spending a lot of time trying to go on strike and do strikes that kind of takes away from the quality of what happens around here," says Ratcliff.

We reached out to the university for comment and they released a statement that says in part, "the university continues to negotiate with the Teamsters with the intent to come to an agreement."

University leaders say in the event of a strike, classes will continue.

Conflict in a community Ratcliff says students, instructors and administrators will all feel.

"They're outside, tons of them all over the place. You see three or four of them everyday. You know I always see them working pretty hard and doing a lot of stuff," says Ratcliff.

If you want to learn more about the looming strike, you can head to the University of Minnesota Student Center this Thursday starting at 11 a.m.