Aramark laundry workers walk off the job
La Crosse, WI – 75 workers at Aramark Laundry Services staged a walkout during peak work hours on July 31. Members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 1121, the workers have been in contract negotiations for several months and have been stonewalled by management.
While the workers have taken bold steps in that time frame, including lunchtime rallies and a march on the boss to deliver a petition, this is their first shutdown of production for a prolonged period. Workers are demanding higher wages, paid sick days and no new wage tiers.
The rally was led by the local’s bargaining committee, along with supporters from nearby UE Locals and regional leadership. The rally was followed by a loud and energetic march around the property, with chants of “Who are we? UE!” and “No contract? No peace!”
Aramark’s industrial laundries are notorious for their low wages and unsafe working conditions. Many workers complained about work areas with temperatures reaching above 100 degrees during the hot summer months. Despite these brutal conditions, Aramark is a multi-billion multinational corporation, with their La Crosse facility servicing some of the most profitable companies in Wisconsin.
“We work for a 21st century sweat shop,” said Local 1121 leader Charlene Winchell. “Aramark is richer now than they have ever been. They are making billions of dollars with all of our hard work. We deserve a slice of the pie.”
When local president Jay Jamesson asked the rallying workers if they were willing to strike to meet their demands, a wave of hands shot up across the crowd. Negotiations are expected to continue this week.