O’Donovan Hall employees staged a demonstration at about 12:35 p.m. Thursday to voice frustration at the slow pace of contract negotiations between the union they formed last year and their employer,Aramark Higher Education.
About 40 Georgetown University Dining Services employees, accompanied by members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, gathered on the top floor of the dining hall, chanting phrases such as “What do we want? A contract. When do we want it? Now,” and “We’ll be back.” Students not involved with the GSC also joined as the demonstration grew.
“It really showed how much Georgetown students care about workers in their community,” GSCmember Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) said.
The union operates under the umbrella of UNITE HERE, a national organization for food service employees, and includes employees of Leo’s, the Jesuit Residence, Cosi, Starbucks and thePreclinical Building’s Dr. Mug.
Although the union was certified in March, members say that they still have not been given fair wages or a more affordable health care program. According to Kohnert-Yount, Aramark employees pay more for health care than any other group of workers at Georgetown.
“What [the employees] want to show is that they’re united and they have the support of students,” Samuel Geaney-Moore (SFS ’12), a GSC member, said.
Geaney-Moore explained that the demonstration was a way for students, particularly those originally involved in the unionization efforts, to show support for the employees’ campaign.
“It’s great to see the workers and students together. To me that’s the real meaning of solidarity,”Aramark employee and union leader Donté Crestwell wrote in a press release. “We are seeking a living wage, reasonable benefits and a 40-hour work week for all. We’re glad that we’ve had the support of Georgetown students through this process.”
Thursday’s participants kept the demonstration a secret until it began during the lunchtime rush on a day on which Aramark officials were on campus.
After the short demonstration, employees immediately returned to work, and members of theGSC passed out flyers to inform students of the progress of negotiations thus far.