This month, campus dining workers at Northwestern University, members of UNITE HERE Local 1, won an agreement with their employer, Sodexo, that brings significant improvements in wages, health benefits and language that protects immigrant workers.
The insistence by Northwestern students, faculty, administration and alumni that the University create good, sustainable jobs on campus was key to the success of the campaign. In addition to putting on a student-worker seminar to build support for a Living Wage, students addressed their concerns to the Faculty Senate and, in a powerful show of solidarity, students marched together with workers in each cafeteria to tell management about the importance of getting a fair contract.
The result of this community-wide solidarity is:
- Free Individual Health Insurance and only $85.00 per month for family coverage for most workers now and for all workers by 2015
- A living wage of between $11.50 and $14.20 by 2015
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday
- Language to protect immigrant workers
"I’ve worked for Sodexo, a multi-billion dollar corporation, for the last seven years as a cook at Northwestern University," says Coco Ajavon. "Right now, I pay over $200 a month for health insurance for myself and my wife. I feel proud to say that, because of the union contract we negotiated, I can now support my family with dignity. A living wage and free health care is something all workers deserve, and we now have that."