COLUMBIA - On the steps of the Plaza 900 dining hall, 30 MU employees voiced their frustration Wednesday over lack of hours and job security. A few signs read: Shame on You MU.
Laborers’ Local 955, a branch of LiUNA and the union representing these employees, said the university substantially cut hours for campus dining workers this summer. MU spokesperson Christian Basi said the university offered summer employment options for full-time employees to avoid reducing their pay or health insurance benefits.
Union spokesperson Andrew Hutchinson said the union asked MU to cover the employee portion of health insurance for workers who had experienced declining hours and the university refused. However, Basi maintained that was not the case.
Basi said it is not unusual for campus dining services to shut down during certain times of the year. This summer, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, MU will not host overnight camps, and as a result, fewer dining locations will be needed.
Campus dining services has 125 employees, and about 30 were offered alternative work. Basi said some part-time employees were not offered summer work.
Mark Perrigo, who has worked for campus facilities for 30 years, also spoke during the news conference. “In the beginning, I was actually very proud to be an employee,” Perrigo said.
MU recently changed the process for how employees file grievances, the Missourian has reported. They can file a grievance to dispute policies or challenge the university’s disciplinary action and policy. Instead of filing through a union representative, now employees must file through a human resources portal online. Union representatives can no longer speak during meetings.
Last year, 170 employees were fired because of pandemic-related budget cuts. About 3,600 employees also were placed on furloughs, receiving between one-week and three-months pay, and 2,300 experienced salary reductions.
Also last year, demonstrations were held over MU’s intention to outsource custodial staff, the Missourian has reported. The move would have saved the university $3 million, although it eventually decided against outsourcing staff, saving about 250 jobs.
Basi said Wednesday that as things stand, MU is keeping all custodians. “However, we continue to review the various options that are available,” he said in an email.