On November 13, over 130 Bridgewater State University food service workers, members of UNITE HERE NEJB Local 580, overwhelmingly ratified a new three year agreement that gives workers fair wage increases, first time benefits to part time workers, and a better shot at middle class life. The cooks, bakers, caterers, cashiers, drivers and dishwashers of BSU will receive a $0.50 per hour wage increase retroactive to October 1 for the first year of the contract, $0.35 the second year, and $0.50 for the third and final year. Workers also won an additional paid holiday, an additional paid sick day (the first and only for part time workers), and paid personal time for part time workers.
The food service workers faced a long negotiation with Sodexo, one of the world’s largest food service corporations. Students, faculty, and staff of BSU helped put pressure on the university and Sodexo to come to an agreement with the union by signing a petition calling for a fair contract for food service workers. Almost 600 people signed the petition circulated both by hand and electronically and delivered to Sodexo at the bargaining table on the last day of negotiations. Students like Kevin Kurbs left messages of support on the petition, “The ladies and gentlemen of food services make life so much better on Bridgewater’s campus. They make the extra effort to improve every student’s day, and go above and beyond to build relationships.” Jim Collier added, “Essential workers to the University community. Fair wages to these workers means a better life for all!
The contract agreed upon by Sodexo and UNITE HERE goes into effect immediately and will last until September 30, 2015. It covers all food service workers at the four dining halls on campus.
“We’re very happy with the new contract. The outpouring of support we received from members of the BSU campus community was heartwarming and crucial to our negotiations” said BSU caterer and Local 580 president Karen Carroll. “We showed that the issues our workers face in the cafeterias affect the entire campus community. We love our jobs serving the students, faculty, and staff of BSU. The new commitment Sodexo has made to us, with more respect for the work we do, will translate to better service to the BSU campus community and will help us better provide a middle class life for our families.”