Organizing in University Food Service

Emerson College Dining Services Workers Win First Union Contract

Organizing in University Food Service

Dining services workers at Emerson College in Boston celebrated the ratification of their first union contract Wednesday. The workers joined UNITE HERE Local 26 last fall after a campaign that rallied Emerson students and faculty. The four-year contract with food service provider Sodexo locks in wage increases for all workers of .75 cents a year, with some workers in some classifications receiving raises of up to $2 this year.

The contract will provide workers with a new higher-quality more-affordable healthcare plan, additional paid sick days, more full-time jobs, and a process to ensure workers are treated with dignity and respect.

“The work we do to feed the campus helps make Emerson strong. We are proud to be part of this community and to have stood together to win respect and a voice on the job,” said Bargaining Committee member and baker Donna Papastavrou.

Emerson College workers are the latest food service workers to join Boston’s Local 26, including workers at Harvard Law School, Lesley University, Mass Art, Mass Pharmacy, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Wheelock College

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Harvard University students and dining hall workers rally for union contract

harvard-rally-4.28.15Harvard-Local26-crimson-01Workers who prepare food for Harvard students held a rally in Harvard Square Tuesday night. The workers, who are members of UNITE HERE Local 26, said it marked the beginning of activity aimed at securing a new union contract with the University.

Workers spoke about their pride in working for Harvard University, particularly in relationship to the students.

“It’s important to me that I make the students feel at home,” said Fatima Leighton, a dining room lead in Annenberg Hall. “My own daughter is in college now and I hope someone is taking care of her the way I take care of Harvard students.”

Workers spoke about the importance of maintaining affordable quality healthcare for them and their families.

“Now that I’m pregnant with my second daughter it’s a relief to have good health insurance,” said Harvard Kennedy School dining services worker Dianela Barros. “I can save money for my children’s future. I want them all to go to college!”

Concern was expressed about Harvard shifting healthcare costs onto the faculty members earlier this year.

“We have a lot of experience figuring out how to manage healthcare costs responsibly,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “We have reached out to Harvard to begin a dialogue. We have not heard back yet.”

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Earthquake in Nepal: Support our union family

We stand in solidarity with our union sisters and brothers impacted by the devastating earthquake in Nepal. Local 26 members hail from around the globe and we have many members who came to Boston from Nepal.

We lift our hearts in prayer for Nepal. In addition, we ask that our union family support our Nepali sisters and brothers by donating to the Greater Boston Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund being held by the Greater Boston Nepali Community organization.

Nepali members and co-workers at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston took this photo to express their hope for Nepal.

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