Welcome to the 70 Aramark cafeteria workers at Simmons College — the newest members of Boston’s Local 26 who voted overwhelmingly to join the union on April 24th. The action started heating up in February, when workers, together with students, faculty, and alumni, presented Aramark’s general manager at the college with a petition signed by over 75% of the workers. In March, students formed a new campus group, the Fighting Injustice Now at Simmons coalition (FINS), and many hundreds of campus allies (students, student groups, faculty, and alumni) signed onto a petition of support for the cafeteria workers. Later that month, hundreds of members of the campus community came together on campus to show how much the workers are valued as important members of the community. The student government and the faculty senate of the College of Arts and Sciences also passed resolutions- unanimously- supporting the workers. While all of this was going on all over campus, the workers repeatedly showed their solidarity and determination by wearing union buttons at work, by participating in delegations and meetings with Aramark and with college administrators and faculty.
Estella Cosby, a cook who has worked at Simmons for nine years, described what happened: “We made a family out of ourselves because all we had was each other. I got to know the students and professors, I shared a little about myself, they shared a little about themselves, and then students became like my sisters and daughters, and professors became like my aunts and mothers.” The Aramark workers at Simmons were also supported by the Bon Appetit workers at Lesley University who organized into Local 26 earlier this spring.