Workers at O’Donovan Hall, Hoya Court and the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center said that they have made progress in their contract renegotiations with Aramark, after their current three-year contract ended in March. Workers expect to reach a deal with Aramark at their next meeting on Tuesday.
In the past several months, workers have spoken out against Aramark’s management for failing to meet fair work and wage conditions and violating workers’ rights. Students from the Georgetown Solidarity Committee collaborated with the workers in drafting a petition expressing the workers’ demands, which include a 40-hour paid workweek, better health care benefits, protection for immigrant workers and sustainable on-campus food practices.
Aramark Corporate Communications Director Karen Cutler agreed that the two parties have made progress in the negotiations.
“We continue to make progress but it would not be appropriate to comment on the ongoing negotiations,” Cutler wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Donte Crestwell, a worker at Leo’s who has been part of the negotiations committee, said that while Aramark has agreed to an open dialogue with workers, they have not met all of the workers’ expectations.
“They came in good faith. It wasn’t what we expected but they did make an effort,” Crestwell said. “As of right now, the negotiations are still open so we can’t give any details. It was better than what they had [earlier], but not what we expected.”
However, Leo’s worker Josh Armstead, who has also been involved in the negotiations committee, said that Aramark has yet to acknowledge a fair process for worker unionization in meetings.
Workers at Hoya Court and the hotel have expressed their desire to join UNITE HERE, the same union that workers at Leo’s, Cosi and Starbucks joined in 2011. GSC organized two rallies in February and March to demonstrate student support for workers achieving a fair process for unionization.
“The economics is not what we want it to be. We still have not heard anything on the fair process for non-unionized workers at Hoya Court and the hotel,” Armstead said.
Additionally, Aramark has not responded to the letter issued by Vice President of Auxiliary Services Joelle Wiese and Director of Business Policy and Planning J. Callahan Watson in February, which requested that Aramark respect workers’ rights.
“We haven’t heard back from [Aramark on the letter]. We’re just waiting to hear something from them,” Crestwell said.
Despite these setbacks, Armstead said that there have been significant improvements in both the language and economic aspects of the negotiation.
“The current progress is that they came to us in the last negotiation in good faith, and we actually did see progress on the language of the contract and on the economic side of the contract. … To have them show that they have an open proposal after seven, eight months is definitely an improvement,” Armstead said. “It’s not where we want it to be, but it is a sign of good faith.”
In an email to The Hoya, Wiese wrote that she still expects Aramark to continue an open dialogue with workers.
“We expect that Aramark and the union will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach a mutually agreeable outcome,” Wiese wrote.
Armstead said that he hopes the negotiations will present fair conditions for both the workers and Aramark.
“The main thing is we definitely want to come out with a stable contract that works for us and works for them. But we want the contract with dignity. We definitely need the economics and the fair process, [and to] have the workers be paid fair wage, so that they can live in the city and surrounding areas and have due rates,” Armstead said.
Armstead said he hopes that the decision reached on Tuesday provides workers with fair treatment.
“We would love to see that Aramark, on [April 14], gives us a fair proposal on the economics and addresses the fair process issue,” Armstead said. “We want them to treat the workers well. We do a lot of hard work. There’s a lot of people on this campus that make it run smoothly. We want to be treated with respect, economically and morally.”
Armstead said that Aramark should not stall the negotiations, which have been ongoing for months.
“My personal opinion is that it would not be in the best interest for these negotiations to stall past that date. The workers are fed up. Anything could happen if a deal is not concluded on [April 14],” Armstead said.
Armstead said that he will continue to inform other workers about the progress of the negotiations until a final agreement is made.
“We keep [the workers] motivated. That’s part of the job. We give them the information,” Armstead said. “You try to keep the anxiety levels low [and] keep their spirits up.”