For immediate release
April 14, 2016
Contractor accused of discriminatory policies, labor violations
Cafeteria workers at the Library of Congress are planning to picket their employer, I.L. Creations, today, April 14, the latest in a series of protests outside I.L. Creations’ cafeterias at federal agencies. Workers for I.L. Creations, one of the main providers of food for federal employees in the D.C. region, have picketed outside the company’s cafeterias at the State Department, Department of Commerce, and U.S. Department of Agriculture in recent weeks.
Serving food in 16 federal government cafeterias, I.L. Creations serves tens of thousands of government workers every day. Workers have spoken out against the company’s low wages, and made allegations of labor law violations and discriminatory policies.
“It makes me so mad that after working all these years I don’t have enough money to be the kind of mother that I want to be. I’m fighting because I know we deserve better,” said Almaz Memgesteab, who has worked in the cafeteria at the Department of Agriculture for 10 years. “I’m a leader in this fight because to me, the most important thing is to provide the best opportunities for education for my children. I have two children, but unfortunately, I had to tell my son that he had to switch to a different school because I couldn’t afford the housing in the neighborhood near the school he wanted to go.”
Last November, an arbitrator decided against I.L. Creations, and in his decision said the following: “[IL Creations’] personnel decisions at USDA appear to favor Caucasian and Asians and disfavor Black Americans… we are beyond the time when an employer could say with impunity, ‘if you’re black stand back.’“ As of April 7, 2016, I.L. Creations has still failed to implement the changes ordered by the arbitrator, even though a federal district court judge enforced the arbitration award.
The workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 23, has filed unfair labor practice charges against I.L. Creations with the National Labor Relations Board alleging 10 unlawful activities, including threatening and disciplining employees for participating in protected union activity.
UNITE HERE Local 23, the union of cafeteria workers in the Washington, D.C. region, represents 1,200 government cafeteria workers at 37 government buildings