Hastings Schools food workers strike after rejecting ‘disrespectful offers’ from district

Pointing to wage increases for teachers and other administration officials since the beginning of the pandemic, food service workers for Hastings School District have begun a strike that they hope will lead to a bigger piece of the pie themselves.

Hastings Schools food service workers, supported by SEIU Local 284, began a strike Tuesday, with workers forming picket lines during popular morning and night pickup times outside Hastings Middle School.

According to a press release from the union, the group represents 35 food service workers in Hastings ISD 200 who began their strike for a "fair contract" after signaling their intent to do so 10 days ago. The group intends to picket at different school locations each day, from 7:30-10:30 a.m. and 2-3:30 p.m.

SEIU Local 284 has been bargaining on behalf of the workers since June 9, 2022. In addition to wage increases, the group also wants stability through regular hours and health insurance benefits, according to the union.

"While district leaders have seen huge raises, food service workers who kept students fed during COVID start out at less than $15 per hour," the union said in a statement. "These essential frontline workers have spoken out about the disrespectful offers and what it means for these critical members of the Hastings schools team but have yet to see enough movement from district leaders."

Previously, food service workers had authorized a strike in December over the same issues.

"They finally came to the table in September, and their proposal was a joke compared to what we were expecting," food service worker Laurie Potthoff told FOX 9 on Tuesday. "Our main sticking point is our wages."

Offers on the table

According to the union, its workers are striking because, "the district is sticking to 2.1% and 2% raises and that's not enough in this economy. The district's information about raises includes one-time money which won't go forward into future contracts."

There are currently no mediation sessions scheduled but, the union is ready to bargain at any time and try to reach a deal, according to a statement.

However, according to the district, its "last, best and final" offer includes raises well above what the union is alleging, and spread across two years.

According to the district, 28% of employees currently bargaining will receive a pay increase of 20% or higher spread over two years. An additional 50% of employees will receive a pay increase of 15% across the two years, and 75% will receive a pay increase of 10% or higher throughout two years.

Its final offer "provides substantial pay increases going as high as 31.2% spread over two years," according to the district.

Both the district and union have been reached for comment seeking clarification regarding the discrepancies in current offers.