More victories for dining hall workers at Boston Universities
Cambridge, MA – On November 5, dining hall workers at Lesley University voted unanimously to ratify a new union contract. This is the second contract for food service workers on the Lesley campus, which is directly adjacent to the campus of Harvard University. This second union contract brings the Lesley workers to an economic standard much closer to that of workers employed by their Ivy League neighbor.
The agreement reached at Lesley follows eith months of negotiations between the Lesley workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 26, and Bon Appetit, the food service company that employs the workers and operates the dining halls on the university’s campus. It also comes on the heels of similar agreements reached across Boston area campuses where Local 26 members work. Workers at Simmons College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences all reached similar agreements earlier this fall.
Union contracts on these campuses will now rise to the standards set by struggles at Harvard University in 2016 and Northeastern University in 2017. On both campuses dining hall workers fought for a minimum annual income of $35,000 a year for full-time workers and affordable health insurance. At colleges like Lesley and Simmons, this will be a dramatic increase, with many workers seeing their hourly wages increase by over 50% during the life of the contract.
Rodamas Moran, a Lesley dining hall worker and Local 26 shop steward, spoke at a Lesley community forum in October and described the struggles of Boston area food service workers to the students and faculty gathered there. “I have two jobs,” Moran told the group. “I start here at 6:00 in the morning and get out at 2:30 and go to my other job until 11 or 11:30. I go home and I sleep maybe 3 hours. Then I get up and do it again.” Moran’s story is not uncommon among workers contending with Boston’s skyrocketing cost of living. The challenges facing Boston’s working class are not disappearing, but the city’s ding hall workers are becoming an example of the best way to confront these challenges – building a fighting labor movement.