For immediate release
July 2, 2019
Washington Convention Center Food and Beverage Workers Vote 98% to Authorize a Strike
Decades of labor peace at risk as new food and beverage contractor Aramark threatens job security for longtime D.C. workers
Washington, D.C.— Rejecting Aramark’s proposal to increase economic and job insecurity for the DC residents who work at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the food and beverage workers who are members of UNITE HERE Local 23, voted 98% on Monday, June 24th to authorize a strike. The strike authorization vote empowers the union’s negotiating committee to call a strike as early as next week.
“I’m proud to provide the welcome and service that convention guests to D.C. deserve. Working at the convention center has allowed me to send my kids to college,” said Carmen Valencia, who has worked at WCC since its opening in 2003 as well as for 7 years at the previous convention center. “But since April 1 when Aramark took over, they have been replacing us with non-union workers and machines. Aramark has not promised that we will continue to work here in the future. I feel betrayed. I have never considered striking before, but I don’t see any other way to protect my job and my family.”
The workers are asking for:
- Raises to enable workers to provide for their families in the face of increasing cost of living
- Access to affordable health insurance
- Job security from outsourcing to subcontractors
- Language enabling workers to negotiate with Aramark over the impacts of new technologies on workers
“The City approved and financed the construction of the Washington Convention Center on the promise that it will bring prosperity to D.C. residents,” says UNITE HERE Local 23 Secretary-Treasurer William Gonzalez. “But now, Aramark is threatening hundreds of workers who have depended on the convention center to provide a pathway to the middle class.”
Workers will be picketing Aramark while it is operating during conventions and events over the next few weeks.
UNITE HERE Local 23 is the food service workers’ union and represents over 6,000 members working in the food service, convention center and airport industries in the D.C. area, including over 250 food, beverage and banquets workers at the Washington Convention Center.