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The University and Dining Services workers reached a tentative agreement around 2 a.m. Thursday after days of intense negotiations — though ratification of the settlement remains contingent on an employee vote today.

Neither party would discuss the specifics of the settlement ahead of the vote, but members of the workers' union's bargaining committee said they would be recommending that Dining Services employees ratify the agreement.

"It's a total settlement," said Joseph Sarno '91, the University's chief negotiator and director of labor and employee relations. "Now they need to get an agreement from their party."

Previous rounds of negotiations failed to secure an agreement, chiefly due to divergences over proposed changes to health care premium payments, retirement benefits for future hires and wage increases. The contentions were amplified by the University's bruised financial situation, which Sarno said was a "big factor."

The seven members of the bargaining committee will "strongly" recommend that workers ratify the settlement during two meetings today, scheduled between employee shifts, said Roxana Rivera, the chief negotiator for the Service Employees International Union, Local 615, which represents the nearly 200 Dining Services employees.

"There was a time we had nothing to recommend to the members," said Rabbit Hoffinger, first cook at the Sharpe Refectory and a member of bargaining committee. "To say that we got this at the midnight hour is to understate it."

Negotiations to replace the already-extended contract began Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., according to union officials, and an agreement was reached more than 14 hours later. Members of the bargaining committee added that they were granted today off from work.




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