Unionized campus dining workers threatened to strike Monday if dining contractor Aramark fails to meet demands, including better benefits, more humane treatment and fair wage and hiring practices. Aramark management said the company does not expect a walkout Monday.
Employees in the Local 25 union are currently working without a contract while negotiations proceed. The 2002 contract ended July 31. The first round of negotiations for a new contract began Sept. 12, and all negotiations are scheduled to end Sept. 24.
Aramark employees said they will walk out during work Monday if that day’s negotiations do not address their complaints, including demands to remove a clause banning strikes.
The workers’ Aramark contract states, “the union agrees that there shall be no strike, work stoppage or other interference with normal work operations.”
During a panel discussion in the Marvin Center Tuesday night, workers cited problems with employer Aramark such as low wages, lack of holiday pay, harsh “sick day” policies, unsanitary conditions and disrespectful management.
Representatives from the workers’ union, Local 25, and Progressive Student Union leaders hosted the panel.
“We need students’ support, because we can’t do this alone,” said James Generic, a PSU member who spoke at the forum. “If there is a walkout, we will make sure it is successful in getting their demands.”
Aramark employs more than 100 unionized workers at GW. Sushi Express and the Malaysian station are at least two venues not managed by Aramark.
Senior Food Service Director Jim Gillespie declined to comment on Aramark’s position regarding the workers’ demands and complaints.
“We would like to be treated with some dignity and respect,” said Muriel Peterson, the Local 25 shop steward, who serves as the liaison between GW Aramark workers and the union.
Gillespie said Aramark does not anticipate a strike Monday.
“The way (negotiations) are going, there should be no problems,” he said. “There are a lot of issues, but I’m confident it will all work out between management and union workers.”
He said Dining Services does not have a plan to staff J Street and other venues if the workers do walk out.
“I will cross that bridge when I come to it,” Gillespie said, pointing out that a strike would violate Aramark’s and GW’s union contract.
Jorge Rivera, director of crisis management at the Local 25, said the unionized workers have formed a strike committee and are prepared to walk out.
This article appeared in the September 19, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.