After a long fight, Earlham College cafeteria workers have finally become members of UNITE HERE Local 23! They began organizing in early 2014 after their employer, Sodexo, began exploiting a loophole in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This loophole allowed Sodexo to reclassify many of the full-time workers as part-time, resulting in a loss of benefits for affected employees.
In the many months that followed, Earlham workers proved that they wouldn’t take Sodexo’s actions lying down: they were featured in a high-profile article in the Wall Street Journal traveled to actions across the country, and even visited the U.S. Capitol to demand the closure of what they dubbed the “Sodexo Loophole.”
Ultimately, their efforts were successful! In June 2014, Earlham amended its contract with Sodexo to require that employees’ benefits be restored, and, later that month, Sodexo reversed its policy nationwide. Four months later, workers won an NLRB election and gained union recognition.
But their fight wasn’t yet over. In November 2014, Sodexo announced it was leaving Earlham, and workers came together again, organizing with the support of Earlham students and community members to keep their jobs, seniority and wages. They won the union for a second time, this time with a new company, Metz Culinary Management. On September 16, 2015—after over a year and a half of organizing—Earlham workers unanimously ratified their first contract!
These workers and their hard-fought victory are a wonderful example of the dedication and tenacious spirit of all UNITE HERE members. Let them be an example to us all.
Congratulations, and welcome to UNITE HERE!