For immediate release
April 13, 2023
With Compass contracts expired at elite institutions across DC, food service workers call for new union contracts with significant raises to keep up with skyrocketing cost-of-living and keep workers out of poverty
Washington, DC – Today hundreds of Compass food workers picketed their employer at the cafeteria they operate at the World Bank, calling for new union contracts for Compass workers who serve the international financial institution.
UNITE HERE Local 23 recently released the results of a survey of 76% (108 out of 142) of the Compass workers who staff food service at the World Bank that detail ways workers struggled to afford necessities like food and housing in the past year. 70% of Compass cafeteria workers surveyed at the World Bank reported lacking money to cover their rent, mortgage, or other housing costs in the last year; 50% lacked money to pay for food for themselves or their households; 33% worked a second job; and 20% received public assistance, among other findings.
“I haven’t seen my family in Ethiopia for 10 years. The flight home is very expensive, I can’t afford it. Right now, my paycheck comes and it goes – I can’t save anything. That’s why I’m fighting for a raise,” said Aklilu Setegn, a runner for Compass at the World Bank.
UNITE HERE is in negotiations with Compass Group for cafeteria workers at several high-profile DC locations in addition to the World Bank, including the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Institute of Health, Freddie Mac, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, American University, Catholic University of America, and George Washington University, among others. A majority of contracts expired on January 31, 2023.
“It took me over 50 years to make more than $20 an hour. We need to do more than barely survive. We have to live. I don’t know how to protest, but I’ll do it. I’ll do what it takes to get what we need,” said Willie Joyner, a Compass food service worker who has worked in cafeterias at the Catholic University of America since 1974.
“Today Compass workers showed they’re ready to take action to win what we need. We know one job should be enough – especially at Compass at the World Bank. We won’t rest until we make hospitality and food service jobs in D.C. truly livable. Workers who serve the elite should not be on the edge of poverty themselves,” said UNITE HERE Local 23 President Marlene Patrick-Cooper.
In DC, UNITE HERE Local 23 represents the Compass food service workers at the U.S. Senate, as well as Sodexo food service workers at the House of Representatives, IMF, the FBI, Fannie Mae, the United States Geological Survey, among others. UNITE HERE Local 23 has members in Georgia, Mississippi, Charlotte, Nashville, DC, Boise, Indiana, Denver, New Orleans, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Virginia