Dining hall employees conducting union negotiation awareness efforts

Employees at each dining unit at the University of Connecticut are wearing stickers pertaining to fair contracts for dining services ahead of union negotiations. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

Employees at each dining unit at the University of Connecticut are wearing stickers pertaining to fair contracts for dining services ahead of union negotiations. (File photo/The Daily Campus)

Employees at each dining unit at the University of Connecticut are wearing stickers pertaining to fair contracts for dining services ahead of union negotiations happening now through July, Director C. Dennis Pierce said. 

Over 350 dining employees across the UConn campus are part of the union UNITE HERE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based out of Boston that encourages transparency in the workplace, according to the union’s website. UConn’s chapter is Local 2527T, and the current contract will expire July 1. 

“We have a very good relationship with our union and work with them all the time to make changes,” Pierce said. “It is just a formality that you have to go through.” 

Pierce said the negotiating team, which is comprised of a handful of employees who are part of UNITE HERE, focuses on getting employees to wear pins and stickers to raise awareness for just contracts and relations between the union and the workers. 

“The stickers are very normal,” Pierce said. “[The negotiators] want the employees to be aware that they are going through a negotiating process for them because they represent the employees.”

Pierce, who is not directly involved with the union or the negotiations, said that it is important for employees to maintain a stable relationship with the union.  

“It is a big deal because you are coming to a better understanding of employee needs and what they want,” Pierce said. “It establishes an agreement for the next three years.”

Ashley Hossack, a UConn dining employee, secretary of the union and member of the negotiating team, said this cycle of negotiations is important because many employee values are at stake.

“This will be a tough negotiation as we figure out yearly raises and health insurance along with many other issues,” Hossack said.

Hossack said there are five variations of the stickers that employees are wearing, and they are intended to raise awareness for the cause and show solidarity.

“We have been wearing union buttons,” Hossack said. “We had five different stickers that we wore to show that we are united.” 

UConn’s branch of UNITE HERE is part of the UConn Labor Coalition, which is comprised of numerous other unions that aim to protect their freedoms and rights on campus, according to The Chronicle.

Amy Gronus, an employee at dining services and president of the local chapter of UNITE HERE, said the idea of encouraging employees to wear the pins raises awareness for the cause. 

“Having the entire membership wear the pins and stickers shows solidarity, strength, support and involvement,” Gronus said.  


Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at taylor.harton@uconn.edu.