A union of Georgetown University’s Aramark workers was officially certified this week, marking the end of nearly two months of negotiations between Aramark, which operates several food service locations at Georgetown, and Unite Here, a union that represents 80,000 foodservice workers nationwide.
“The union at Georgetown for its Aramark workers at Leo’s, Starbucks, Cosi, the Jesuit residence, and Dr. Mug has been certified,” David Schwartz (SFS ’12), a student who has been involved in the unionization efforts since last July, said.
Through their representation in Unite Here, Aramark employees who work in Leo J. O’Donovan Dining Hall, Wolfington Hall, the Cosi and Starbucks in the Leavey Center, and the Dr. Mug in the Preclinical Building now have the authority to negotiate with Aramark over health care options and wage increases.
While negotiations between Aramark and Unite Here began in early February, workers had quietly been working towards unionization for more than a year. Motivated by Aramark’s alleged mistreatment of its employees, a committee of approximately 20 on-campus workers was formed to clandestinely build support for the campaign.
“They made it easy for us to make this decision, the way we were getting treated,” Donté Crestwell, a 14-year Aramark employee who was involved in the early efforts, told the Voice in February. “Our pay raises are just horrible. Last time we had a raise, a lot of [employees] got 12 cents. Mine was 55 cents, and that was probably one of the highest.”
Under the University’s Just Employment Policy, any on-campus vendor is required to respect workers’ rights.
“Georgetown University’s mission as a Catholic and Jesuit institution includes principles and values that support human dignity in work, and respect for workers’ rights,” Rachel Pugh, director of media relations, wrote in an email. “We live these principles and values through the development and implementation of business policies and practices that create and support a fair and just work place for all members of the university community, including the employees of vendors that deliver services on our campuses. These principles include freedom of association without intimidation, interference or retaliation for all workers.”
For more on the history of the unionization effort, read the Voice‘s Feb. 17 story.