Food service workers employed by Morrison Healthcare at the Mayo Charter House have voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The workers voted by a 2-1 margin to join the union. Workers announced their victory at the September 4th Rochester Labor Day picnic that was hosted by Communities United for Rochester Empowerment (CURE) and Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota. The bargaining unit consists of 84 food service workers.
This is the second union victory for Mayo food workers in 2017. More than 500 food service workers, who were outsourced last year in a controversial decision by Mayo Clinic, reached a tentative agreement with their new employer, Morrison Healthcare in June, which members ratified in July.
Michael Roeder was one of the Charter House workers who led the campaign to win their union.
"In the recent years, we've all witnessed the rise in cost of living here in Rochester,” said Roeder. “However, with this rise should come an equally similar increase in wages, but that hasn't been the case. People not only at the Charter House but all over the city are experiencing difficulty paying their bills because there is a disproportionate ratio of wages to the average cost of living. Because we formed our union, we are ready to join the fight to fix this problem.”
"Even amidst management's tactics to dissuade us from forming a union, low-balling offers and bringing in union-busters, we persevered because we all ignored their distractions. I am so glad we voted so overwhelmingly to join together and become members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota."
Cheryl Ouellette was another leader in the food service organizing campaign.
"In order for Charter House to be the preferred place to live, it first has to be the preferred place to work. We knew that the best way to make that happen after everything that has gone over the last year was to join together in the union," said Ouellette. "I am so happy we now have a collective voice to make sure we can fight for the best for both workers and the community."
Fellow Morrison worker Rhoda Mghenyi predicted, "Coming together in the union will unite us and lead us to real action. Our jobs will be more meaningful as we strive to make a better living and support for our families.”
“We now have a voice to make changes at Charter which will be a better facility, if not the best campus at Mayo," said Mghenyi. "We still have a lot of work to do, however we must remain focused on our goals. By coming together, we will enter a journey of greatness. We are stronger together and we will achieve more. Go Union!"
Bargaining dates will be set in the coming weeks.
Article based in part on information provided by SEIU Minnesota State Council