SEATTLE (Sept. 22, 2014) — After organizing to join UNITE HERE Local 8, food service workers at Seattle University overwhelmingly ratified their first union contract on Wednesday.
The 150 workers serving students and faculty at Seattle University are employed by Bon Appetit Management Company and will receive substantial pay increases, lower-cost health benefits, and numerous other improvements to their working conditions.
“I’ve been a cashier at Seattle University for more than 6 years,” said negotiating committee member Glenda Navas. “I feel so proud that we now have a contract that gives consistent wage increases, immigration rights and protections, cheaper health insurance for myself and my coworkers, and most importantly, job security. Si se pudo!”
Workers went to management at the end of the academic year in 2014 with strong majority support for the Union and demanded recognition. In their delegation they were joined by student and faculty supporters.
“As a student at Seattle U, my greatest sources of pride and commitment to our mission of social justice have been in moments like these, when staff and students are able to see a direct impact in our communities,” said Class of 2015 student Lorena Mendoza-Flores. “I’m so happy knowing that the women who serve us will now be able to better support their families. Working with Unite Here and Bon Appetit towards the first contract for our cafeteria workers was an experience that will stay with me forever.”
Union members from around the Puget Sound Region were involved in the successful organizing effort. They shared the idea of the union with their sisters and brothers working at Seattle University from early on in the campaign.
“We welcome Seattle University workers to our union. Seattle is booming and getting more expensive, while we are struggling. Together we can change that and raise the standard for food service workers in the Seattle area. We deserve better,” said Melody Swett, cocktail server and longtime union member at the Westin Seattle.
UNITE HERE Local 8 represents about 5,000 workers in the hospitality industries of Washington and Oregon State. Local 8 members work in hotels, restaurants, food service, and airport concessions. They include room cleaners, cooks, bartenders, bellmen, food and beverage servers, bussers, and dishwashers. For more information, please visit Local 8’s website.