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'The most exciting contract we have ever won': Food service workers reach tentative deal with MPS

The two parties came to a tentative agreement on a three-year contract, just days after the union gave its 10-day notice to strike if a deal couldn't be reached.

MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's note: The video above first aired March 15, 2022.

Food service workers with Minneapolis Public Schools announced Thursday afternoon that they have reached a tentative deal with the district, avoiding a potential strike.

The union says the two parties came to a tentative agreement on a three-year contract, just days after giving their 10-day notice to strike if a deal couldn't be reached. 

In a statement from SEIU Local 284, food service coordinator at FAIR and Wellstone schools Tilly Gichuway said the deal was "exciting." 

RELATED: Student mental health central issue in teacher-district negotiations

"I've been on many negotiating teams, and this is the most exciting contract we have ever won. We believe this contract shows that we are appreciated by MPS and the Culinary Wellness Services (CWS)."

The union shared that the tentative agreement includes a wage increase of $1 in the first year and $0.75 in the second year. The statement said the deal also includes longevity increases for long-term employees, improvements on life insurance and long-term disability, vacation accrual, retirement security, among others.

Officials with Minneapolis Public Schools also released a statement announcing the deal, thanking members of MPS staff and the SEIU for their hard work at the bargaining table. 

RELATED: Resources for parents amid teacher strike in Minneapolis

The district says that for contractual reasons, it "cannot share any details" about the agreement until union members vote on it, but Superintendent Ed Graff went on to express his gratitude for the workers, and his excitement over the tentative agreement.

“We’re very excited to be able to continue providing those services for our students – the wellness programs that we have as well as our food service program – especially during this very, very difficult time," he said.

In a statement, he added, “The contributions these staff provide to each school community and the district are invaluable, especially to our students who depend on their hard work to get the tasty, nutritious meals they need to fuel their bodies and healthy growth. SEIU employees have been key throughout the pandemic, serving on the front lines distributing millions of food boxes for students in the early days of the pandemic and throughout distance learning.”

The news comes as educators from the district continue to strike amid their own negotiations with the MPS. As of March 17, teaching staff have been picketing for 10 days.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers union is bargaining for enforceable contract language surrounding class size, mental health support, living wages for hourly ESPs, competitive pay for licensed staff, among other provisions.

RELATED: Minneapolis teachers on strike: What are they asking for?

To stay up-to-date with information regarding the Minneapolis teachers strike, check back with KARE 11 and visit MPS' website.

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