Aramark dining and catering workers at Loyola University of Chicago won their second contract since joining the union in 2010. The members of UNITE HERE Local 1 will now gain access to affordable Union healthcare, 40-hour-per-week contract language, protections for immigrant workers and much more. The agreement averted a strike.
Aramark at Loyola workers speak over a dozen languages, and the effort brought this diverse group closer together. A Mexican immigrant consoled an Iraqi refugee, pledging that everyone would stand together. Black workers led the cheers when it was announced that following the contract win workers, mostly Chinese, would have new rights to speak their non-English languages on the job.
A core group of dedicated Loyola students, the Students for Worker Justice, a USAS affiliate, stepped to the plate to back the workers. Students participated in rallies and encouraged workers in the dining halls. When the students themselves faced challenges in the campaigns, the workers returned the solidarity, flowers in hand.
In addition to students and the workers, local Catholic clergy came together to sign a letter of support that was distributed directly to workers in the shops. UNITE HERE Locals 11, 19, 23, 75, 100, 217, 274, 2850 and the New England Joint Board showed their solidarity as well.
This team effort has created a new standard for food service contracts in Chicago, a standard our Union will take forward in the struggles to come.