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Union Accepts Pay Hike Offer, Ends Its Strike Against MIT

By Nicholas Lemann

Eight hundred maintenance and custodial workers yesterday ended a bitter 26-day strike against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a 343-195 vote yesterday morning, the membership of local 254 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) accepted a new contract that includes concessions by the union on wages and by MIT on benefits.

The new contract, hammered out by MIT and union negotiators in a 12-hour bargaining session Monday, boosts the workers' wages by 7.5 per cent in each of the next two years.

The SEIU had asked for a two-year contract with 10 per cent pay raises in each year.

New Benefits

The new contract grants the workers increases in sick-and funeral-leave benefits, pensions and pay differentials for evening and night work.

Eighty-five members of local 184 of the Cooks and Pasty Cooks Association who work in MIT's dining halls are still on strike but may bargain with MIT this week.

MIT and the SEIU had charged each other with violations of the National Labor Relations Act. Each side filed an official complaint about the other with the National Labor Relations Board.

The SEIU claimed that MIT was not bargaining in good faith because it was refusing to negotiate on its wage offers.

MIT charged the SEIU with engaging in "illegal strike activity including acts of physical assault, threats of personal harm, destruction of property, vandalism, mass picketing and blockage of entrance."

The strike forced MIT to stop all mail pickup and delivery, outgoing shipping, and custodial and cleaning services.

The benefits the new contract grants include:

A 1-per-cent hike in the pay differential between work in the night and evening shifts and in the day shifts;

An option allowing retiring employees to collect cash compensation for unused sick leave they have accumulated;

A $1 increase in the per-month employee pension rate, from $6.50 to $7.50;

Up to three days off with pay for funerals; and

Full tuition benefits for children of union members who attended MIT.

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