- Washington Free Beacon - http://freebeacon.com -

Clintons Avoid Union Picket Line

The Clintons will not have to decide between attending an event for their nonprofit and avoiding crossing a picket line after the union and university avoided a strike.

On Oct. 4, food service workers at Northeastern University voted to authorize a strike to protest stalled negotiations between the school vendor and UNITE HERE Local 26. The strike was set to begin Wednesday, just two days before the Clinton Global Initiative University kicked off a conference.

UNITE HERE, which played a key role in delivering Hillary Clinton an upset victory in Nevada, threatened to picket the conference and called on the Clinton family to boycott its own event.

"UNITE HERE Local 26 is calling on the Clintons and CGI to not break the worker strike and cross the picket line this week: to instead play a crucial role in resolving this conflict which at its core is about the alleviation of poverty for women and people of color," it said in a Monday release.

The union called off the strike after winning concessions from Chartwells, the university's cafeteria vendor. UNITE HERE entered negotiations in April hoping to raise average wages from $22,000 per year to $35,000 and called for a better healthcare plan and subsidies, arguing against the "poverty jobs Northeastern offers."

As of Monday the two sides were still deadlocked with the vendor offering to reach the $35,000 salary level in three years and cover 90 percent of health insurance plans, according to a university spokesman. After threatening to strike during the Clinton event, the two sides reached an agreement on Tuesday night. The company will now cover 97 percent of health insurance costs, begin paying $35,000 to full-time workers by 2018, and allow workers to participate in the union pension plan, according to the terms of the deal.

"With the determination and leadership of the workers and students we have won an agreement that will be life-changing for our members and impactful in their communities," Local 26 lead negotiator Michael Kramer said in a statement. "It raises the standard for campus food service workers across Boston whose value and importance in the university community is often forgotten."

The union has leveraged more favorable contracts with the threat of strikes in the past. It won salary levels ranging from $33,800 to $35,000 from Harvard University after food service workers staged a 22-day strike at the campus in 2016. A union spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon officials had been in touch with members of the Clinton Foundation, but did not know it they acted on those messages.

"UNITE HERE Local 26 reached out to the Clinton Foundation to warn them of the potential strike," she said. "We may never know if the upcoming CGIU event had an impact on the incredible settlement we won. Regardless we are thankful to everyone who stood with us."

A university spokesman welcomed the settlement.

"We commend the parties involved—the union and our food service vendor, Chartwells—for working over the weekend to reach an amicable agreement for Chartwells employees," the university said in a statement. "We are pleased that members of the Northeastern community, particularly our students, will not experience any disruption in dining hall service."

Neither the Clinton Foundation, nor the Clinton Global Initiative returned multiple requests for comment.