For immediate release
October 20, 2009
213.481.8530 ext. 253
USC Food Service Workers Ratify New Five-Year Contract with Major Wage and Benefit Gains
Local 11 members preserve free family health care and tuition waiver for employees' children admitted to USC
LOS ANGELES – More than 600 University of Southern California food service workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 11, ratified a new contract on Friday, Oct. 16 with a significant wage increase and the preservation of free family healthcare.
The USC employees won wage increases of up to $2.45 per hour and upheld the Local 11 standard of free, full family medical coverage throughout the life of the contract.
Employees won access to enroll in a 403(b) retirement savings account with an up to 10 percent contribution from the university. They also preserved the tuition waiver benefit, which allows employees’ children, if admitted, to attend the university free of charge.
"With UNITE HERE we have a long tradition of organizing for strong contracts with big improvements, and this victory is just another example," said Alfredo Valle, a food server at USC for more than 25 years.
Valle said he was especially proud that they protected their excellent healthcare under the union contract.
Just as bargaining got underway last month, 80 food service workers took their demands to USC President Steven Sample to demonstrate their organizational power and commitment to winning a strong contract.
"It’s never easy taking on a big university, but by remaining unified, the USC food service workers won a great contract in less than two months," said Tom Walsh, UNITE HERE Local 11 president. "Congratulations."
Charlie Carnow, a USC Master’s candidate and campus activist who organized student support for the food service contract, said he felt excited to see firsthand that when workers unite and fight for what is important to them and their families, they win.
Carnow said students care about setting high working standards for USC employees.
"This is our campus food service, we must encourage the university to set a standard for sustainability and economic justice for all," Carnow said.
Other contract gains include:
- Significant increases in the wage rate for summer work
- Increased summer work opportunities to food service workers based on seniority
- Enhancement of gratuity opportunities for banquet servers
- Reduced workload for USC Hotel room attendants
UNITE HERE represents food service workers in public and private universities throughout the country, including at Southern Connecticut State University, Johns Hopkins, Yale, Sarah Lawrence College, the Chicago City Colleges, Northwestern, SUNY, MIT and Harvard.