Simmons workers, students, and faculty join forces to create a cafeteria union
Source: The Phoenix
By DAN SCHNEIDER
At Simmons College, the dining hall may soon start serving a dish unfamiliar to the Fenway-area school: organized labor. Working in secret over the last year, a coalition of students, professors, and union members from UNITE HERE Local 26 have collaborated with cafeteria workers to help organize the employees into an official union.
On Tuesday, February 19, a group of workers and student-union allies formally asked their employer, Fortune 500 foodservice giant Aramark, to let workers exercise their right to organize. The request came in the form of a petition to Andy Allen, the director of dining at Simmons, and asked that Aramark not try to interrupt unionization efforts with "threats and intimidation." Allen's office did not return a request for comment on this story.
On February 27, the group held its first public meeting, organized by Simmons student activist group Fighting Injustice at Simmons Now (FINS) Coalition. In a flag-adorned conference room at Simmons, well over 100 students, faculty, and workers gathered to express their support and chart their plans. After a week of activity, the group had already got 80 percent of the Aramark employees at Simmons to sign on to the union.
Some event attendees noted the adverse working conditions that had to change — the lack of sick days, the insufficient job security, and the inadequate pay. A number of workers had speeches translated from Spanish by friends and coworkers, and used the gathering to express gratitude for all the work that everyone had put into the campaign over the last year.