Striking York University Food Service Workers Win $15 and Fairness

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 1381 .... March 12, 2017

Striking York University Food Service Workers Win $15 and Fairness

Alia Karim and David Bush

On Monday March 6th, striking York University food service workers, represented by Unite Here Local 75, voted to accept their new contract. The workers went on strike for and won a $15/hour starting wage and fair working conditions. Their victory paves the way for workers right across the province to achieve $15 and fairness.

The workers won major improvements to their contract in the nearly three week strike. They will see an immediate bump in their starting wage from $12.21 per hour to $13.21, which will apply retroactively back to last September. There will be a further wage increase this coming September and by the end of the first... year of the contract, the starting wage for all workers will be $15.

The workers won improvements in contract language which will protect union work and breaks. They also achieved a significant victory by getting Aramark to fully cover the dental plan, which the company has never done for any of its workers in North America. By the end of the contract, all workers, both full-time and part-time, will be on the health and dental plan.

The 160 Aramark food service workers at York University had been preparing for this round of contract negotiations since last year. The low pay, bullying, racial discrimination by management, and the poor working conditions bred widespread discontent amongst the workers. They built up the confidence to take on a powerful multinational corporation and the York University administration by marching on their boss, holding demonstrations, and organizing mass meetings with other food service workers across the GTA. Through months of organizing, the workers in the union were able to produce a 100 per cent strike ratification vote.

On February 2, the food service workers walked off the job on a one-day strike, shutting down all Aramark locations at York University. The workers marched on campus, held multiple rallies, and demonstrated their strength to the employer and the administration.

Workers then went on indefinite strike on February 16. They held a picket line at the main gate and organized two marches on campus a day. During York's reading week, which was on the second week of the strike, the union organized a week of actions downtown targeting the company. They were joined by the striking food service workers from UofT Scarborough (who are still on strike).

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