Hundreds of Wall Street Cafeteria Workers March on Aramark Owner Goldman Sachs
March 5, 2008
Low-Wage Workers Call on Goldman to Spread the Wealth to Cafeteria Workers
Amid the bustle of the financial district, hundreds of cafeteria workers employed by Aramark at many of Wall Street’s largest investment banks rallied on March 5 and demanded that Ararmark owner and client Goldman Sachs take action to lift the city’s corporate cafeteria workers out of poverty.
The crowd gathered at a Bank of New York headquarters on Wall Street, where Aramark cafeteria workers when on strike yesterday, demanding better wages (after working without a contract for more than 4 months). Labor and religious leaders and striking workers addressed the crowd, which then marched past Goldman Sachs, calling on the company to help low-wage cafeteria workers, by pushing Aramark to raise wages and provide health insurance that families can afford, and to stop interfering in workers’ decision to form a union.
Last year the average Goldman Sachs employee made more than $12,000 a week before taxes, while the average Aramark cafeteria employee at Goldman took home only $410 per week.
“Aramark is in cafeterias all across the city,” explains Bill Granfield, President of UNITE HERE Local 100, who was joined by UNITE HERE General President Bruce Raynor and UNITE HERE Hospitality Industry President John Wilhelm. “Lots of places, lots of problems – and we’re here at Goldman because they’re not just a client they’re an owner. This company has the ability to change the lives of the men and women serving some of the country’s richest individuals.”
The strike at Bank of New York locations at 101 Barclay and One Wall Street – that began on March 4 and involves 32 Aramark workers – is just the latest in a long string of labor problems the company has provoked here in New York, and across the country. Aramark workers at 55 Water Street and New York Life were forced to walk the picket line for three months in the dead of winter before the company finally settled in February.
On March 3, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer held a hearing to address the quality of jobs created in the borough. Aramark cafeteria workers at locations around the city testified about the struggles they face and Aramark’s unwillingness to raise standards.
At PricewaterhouseCoopers and Citigroup’s executive dining room, non-union Aramark workers are fighting for the right to decide whether they want a union without management interference, and struggling to leave the ranks of the working poor. Aramark has responded by intimidating and interrogating workers.
Today’s march will bring together hundreds of Aramark workers from across the city – from cafeterias at the United Nations, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, CBS, and others.
“Goldman Sachs owns 20% of Aramark. That puts them in the position to change the company’s course. Aramark has violated the public trust in Philly, in Detroit, in Florida and been enmeshed in one scandal after another. We expect Goldman and the other owners of Aramark to rein in this company’s behavior, or be held accountable for it,” said Raynor, who recently lent his voice to calls from workers and communities for accountability from Aramark at public schools, universities, stadiums, and prisons.
The rally was organized by the Campaign for Quality Services, a joint project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and UNITE HERE that brings together workers, parents, clergy and community leaders to raise standards throughout the food, cleaning and maintenance service industries. Across the country, more than 50,000 food service workers in cafeterias are united as members of SEIU and UNITE HERE. For more information, visit http://www.factsonaramark.info/.
To learn about Aramark locations across Manhattan, download the map located at http://www.serviceworkersrising.org/documents/CautionAramark.pdf.