Tufts dining hall workers join UNITE HERE Local 26, demand recognition

500 students march with workers to demand university recognize union

BOSTON, MA—Surrounded by hundreds of students, Tufts dining hall workers announced they have formed a union. Together, they called on President Anthony Monaco to recognize the union.

Once recognized, Tufts Dining Services workers will become members of the union that successfully struck Harvard for 22 days in 2016 and narrowly averted a strike at Northeastern in 2017. In both cases, workers won celebrated agreements that significantly improved job security, income and respect for campus workers.

“I have been working at Tufts for 29 years, but I still don’t feel heard,” said Immacula Desroses. “I know how to do my job. I want to be treated like a human being. I decided I couldn’t wait any longer.”

“After 14 years at Tufts, this year I got a 19-cent raise,” said dining hall worker, Grazia Difabio. Grazia lost her house and now lives with her daughter and son and is often unable to take care of her grandchildren because of her constantly changing schedule. “We work so hard to keep our students happy. I’m thankful that they are looking out for us.”

43 student groups have joined a coalition backing the food service worker’s union.

“The bonds between workers and students cannot be broken,” said Second Year majoring in Philosophy at Tufts, Kayleigh Milano. “We both want what’s best for each other. It’s time for Tufts to listen and recognize the union.”

“We are proud that Tufts University dining hall workers have chosen to join Local 26,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “Along with dining hall workers from a majority of Boston area campuses including Harvard, MIT and Northeastern University, we welcome them into our Union.  We call on Tufts Administration to recognize the workers union and to immediately sit down to address the dining hall workers’ concerns.”


UNITE HERE Local 26 represents nearly 10,000 members working in the hotel, food service, and airport industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 


For Immediate Release: April 3, 2018



UNITE HERE Local 26 members at Northeastern ratify agreement, avert strike

UNITE HERE Local 26 dining hall workers ratify agreement, win $35,000 and affordable health care in “incredible victory”
Boston, MA—Today UNITE HERE Local 26 members on Northeastern University’s campus ratified a 5-year agreement just hours before they were scheduled to begin a strike.

Workers voted 316 to 2 to authorize a strike on October 4 over a set of demands that was inspired in part by the 22-day strike at Harvard University. A key issue was workers’ low incomes, leading many to rely on public assistance to survive, even if they worked full-time. Health care was the other main rallying point, as workers demanded affordability, citing lack of funds to seek medical care, or reliance on government health care.
The agreement includes wage increases that will bring full-time workers to $35,000 annually by 2019, and a dramatic increase to the number of full-time schedules available. The new contract will provide a total of $5.65 in hourly wage increases to all workers, across-the-board.

On health care, the agreement now provides an insurance plan that is paid for by the employer at 97 percent. In addition, workers were able to maintain access to a platinum level plan with no takeaways.

The new contract provides enhanced protections for immigrant workers, strengthened non-discrimination language including the addition of gender identity and expression, and additional sick days.

A new “snow days” provision elicited cheers; workers will now be able to use personal or vacation time if they are unable to come into work on days the state closes offices due to a blizzard or snow storm. Workers who are able to brave the elements to serve the campus will be paid time-and-a-half.

And, importantly, workers at Northeastern University will join the UNITE HERE Local 26 pension plan, allowing them to begin to accrue retirement benefits.

UNITE HERE Local 26 Lead Negotiation Michael Kramer said:
“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. It raises the standard for campus food service workers across Boston whose value and importance in the university community is often forgotten.”

Northeastern dining worker and bargaining committee member Angela Bello said:
“I am so proud of what we accomplished. It’s amazing to feel the power that workers have when we get together and are well organized. The ways this contract will impact our lives is almost hard to believe. Thank you to everyone who supported us and believed in us.”

Second year Northeastern Law student Keally Cieslik said:
“Hearing the news that the workers negotiated a contract they are satisfied with is simply thrilling. Organizing alongside Northeastern’s food service workers and Local 26 has been one of the best experiences of my life.”

UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang said:
“Our union fights so that our members can have their fair share of the wealth they create. Last year that meant we struck Harvard University for 22 days. This week we threatened to do the same at Northeastern. Next on the list are the 34 Boston hotels where contracts expire in 2018. We commend the Northeastern administration for agreeing to a new standard for dining hall workers in the Boston area that includes $35,000 annual income, affordable health care, and retirement.”

UNITE HERE Local 26 represents nearly 10,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, and airport industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. UNITE HERE Local 26 members went on strike for 22-days at Harvard University in October 2016 to win sustainable annual income and affordable health care. More at www.local26.org.

For Immediate Release: October 8, 2017
Contact: Tiffany Ten Eyck, [email protected], 313-515-1807

Northeastern University Workers Vote To Strike Days Before CGI Event, Forcing Clintons to Cross Union Picket or Cancel Forum

Hundreds of Low Wage Northeastern University Workers Approved Union Strike set to Begin Two Days Before Clintons, CGI Set to Host Event on Campus

BOSTON, MA—In the set up for a major labor confrontation, hundreds of Northeastern University workers overwhelmingly approved a strike, set to begin just two days before the Clintons and the Clinton Global Initiative comes to the University for a prescheduled event. Attendees of Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative University event slated for Northeastern University on October 13 are looking at the major possibility of either crossing picket lines of workers of color demanding an end to the poverty jobs Northeastern offers them, or skipping out on the CGI event altogether.

More than 300 union food service workers at Northeastern University, represented by UNITE HERE Local 26, voted October 4th to authorize a strike to raise wages to $35,000 a year, finally offering the largely immigrant cafeteria workers at Northeastern a sustainable annual income and affordable health care. Negotiations began in April but have yet to yield these demands. The strike is currently set to begin October 11 if the labor dispute is not resolved; which would mean Bill and Chelsea Clinton will encounter picket lines when they plan to attend the CGIU event.

The average UNITE HERE food service worker at Northeastern University currently earns under than $22,000 a year, forcing these workers to rely on public assistance and subsidies for childcare and health care despite the wealth of their employer. Northeastern workers and students have called on Northeastern University to end poverty for workers on its campus, a goal they feel is congruent with the Clinton Foundation and CGIU missions.

“Even though I work full-time at a wealthy university, I’m forced to live in low-income housing and am facing eviction right now,” said food service worker Roxanna Santana. “My daughter wants to go to college next year like all the students I serve on the Northeastern campus, but I cannot afford to send her, or save for my family’s future.”

“It’s hypocritical of the Northeastern administration to host the Clinton Foundation conference while they force the Northeastern dining hall workers out on strike with poverty wages that disproportionately impact the people of color and women in these jobs,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “Certainly this irony isn’t lost on the Clintons.”

UNITE HERE Local 26 workers who are employed full time at the university currently are paid an annual average wage of $21,460 – a poverty wage in the heart of Boston. 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 it’s core is about the alleviation of poverty for women and people of color.

UNITE HERE represents 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada, including 75,000 members in California. Learn more at www.unitehere.org.

UNITE HERE Local 26 represents nearly 10,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, and airport industries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. UNITE HERE Local 26 members went on strike for 22-days at Harvard University in October 2016 to win sustainable annual income and affordable health care. More at www.local26.org.

For immediate release: October 7, 2017
Contact: Tiffany Ten Eyck, [email protected], 313-515-1807

Boston Globe: Northeastern dining hall workers vote to authorize strike

Dining Hall Workers at Northeastern University Announce Strike Vote, Prepare for Potential Strike

For Immediate Release  September 20, 2017                                                                   

Contact: Tiffany Ten Eyck, 313-515-1807,  [email protected]

More than 300 have already workers pledged to vote to strike

BOSTON, MA—Inspired by last October’s strike at Harvard University, food service workers at Northeastern University announced tonight they have called for a strike vote on October 4. At the event, they unveiled a photo display of the more than 300 workers that have already pledged to vote “yes” to strike if necessary.

Workers, who are members of UNITE HERE Local 26, have been in negotiations since April in hopes of reaching an agreement on a new contract. Negotiations will continue throughout the month.

“Northeastern is ignoring the crisis of poverty that many of us face,” said food service worker Angela Bello. “Too many of us who work full time at Northeastern University are not paid enough to live with dignity. ”

Northeastern dining hall workers are making the same demands that led to a 22-day strike at Harvard University: the ability to earn at least $35,000 a year for full-time work and affordable health care. The average dining worker at Northeastern made less than $22,000 last year. Many qualify for and rely on public assistance such as low-income housing, “food stamps,” and Mass Health.

“With what Northeastern pays me, I can’t afford to pay for the academic programs my 11-year old daughter needs, or for her to have her own bedroom apart from her two younger siblings,” said food service worker Shante McCorvey. “We live in low-income housing and every day is a struggle.”

“It’s unconscionable that dining service workers at such a prestigious Boston institution as Northeastern University must rely on welfare to get by,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “Our members are insisting upon the sum of $35,000 a year for full time work and affordable healthcare. We hope that Northeastern will find its way to support this modest proposal without a strike.”

“We interact with dining hall workers every single day, and we know how hard they work,” said Jessica Dampier, a third year Psychology major. “It’s important to me that we use our power as students to support all members of the Northeastern community. This is our university, and we demand that it treats every worker with respect and dignity.”

Ed Note:

Campaign video available here: https://www.facebook.com/uniteherelocal26/videos/1231538220285830

Photos and raw video from tonight’s event available upon request.