For immediate release
June 27, 2023
Over 1,000 Compass food service workers ratify life-changing union contracts that include more than $8 in raises, 4 weeks paid parental leave, affordable or free healthcare, an end to non-union temporary workers in their shops, and more
Washington, D.C. — Nearly 1,100 food service workers at elite institutions across DC have secured new union contracts with UNITE HERE Local 23 that include bigger raises than they have received in the past 21 years combined. The new contracts cover workers, employed by Compass Group, at the World Bank, Smithsonian, the National Institute of Health, Freddie Mac, AstraZeneca, American University, Catholic University of America, and George Washington University, among other locations.
UNITE HERE Local 23’s contract with Compass at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts remains unsettled as the employer continues to demand the right to subcontract out work to itself.
The new contracts, which are now in effect, mean an immediate $3 raise for all workers with an overall wage increase of more than $8 by 2027. Healthcare for individual workers will become free by 2026. All workers will be eligible for 4 weeks paid parental leave. Additionally, Compass has agreed to reduce the use of temporary workers in its DC operations, while expanding the opportunity for workers whom Local 23 represents to get more work through a catering pool.
UNITE HERE Local 23 has also won guaranteed rights at work for trans and non-binary workers, new work accommodations for workers who are pregnant or have just given birth, and specific job protections for workers dealing with family/intimate partner violence.
“I’ve sat at the table at many negotiations since October 1976—that was the first time, when I was six months pregnant—and so much has changed. This is the first time we’ve ever gotten dollars [raises]. To win this is amazing to me. It took perseverance and belief. I was very happy to be able to see this. In the past we got what we could—but this time we got what we needed. We had faith and belief, and we made it happen,” said Willie Joyner, a Compass food service worker who has worked in cafeterias at the Catholic University of America since 1974.
“With the raise my coworkers and I won, I finally have enough breathing room to save money again. And maybe update the greenhouse for my vegetables too,” said Andre Blount, a Compass prep cook at the World Bank.
Over the last four years, UNITE HERE Local 23 has brought up the food service standard in D.C. through union contracts with subcontractors at places like Nationals Stadium, Audi Field, the Senate Cafeteria, Dulles airport, and National airport.
“I am so proud of Compass workers in this city. They have done two things: won life-changing raises, affordable healthcare, and so much more for their families, but also set the new standard for what a good hospitality job looks like in D.C. We said workers who serve the elite shouldn’t be on the edge of poverty themselves, so we look forward to winning this new standard for all of our members,” said UNITE HERE Local 23 President Marlene Patrick-Cooper.
Next up for UNITE HERE’s food service affiliate in D.C. — a number of contracts with Sodexo, the government’s largest food service contractor, expire this year. Local 23’s contracts with Sodexo at the House of Representatives dining and catering, Howard University, IMF, FBI, FAA, and the British Airways and Lufthansa lounges at Dulles have already expired, with contracts expiring in the coming months at the George H.W. Bush Center for Intelligence, Geological Survey, Fannie Mae, and the American University College of Law. Since 2022, thousands of Sodexo cashiers, cooks, and other food service workers across the country have formed unions and mobilized to win historic contract victories at university dining halls, convention centers, stadiums and arenas, and more.
UNITE HERE Local 23 represents 25,000 hospitality workers from universities and museums, to airport concessions, hotel and parking attendants. Local 23 members are active in Georgia, Mississippi, Charlotte, Nashville, DC, Boise, Indiana, Denver, New Orleans, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Virginia.