After many months at the bargaining table, Loyola’s Aramark employees now have a new contract.
Aramark and Unite Here Local 1 — the union representing Loyola’s dining hall workers — reached the agreement on March 31. That was just one week after the Aramark employees voted to authorize a strike.
The new contract includes better wages, more affordable health care and a 40-hour work week, according to the announcement on the Students For Worker Justice (SWJ) Facebook page.
Aramark spokesperson Karen Cutler could not provide any further details about the contract but said Aramark was glad to have reached an agreement that works for all bargaining parties.
SWJ is a student-led group that advocates for workers at Loyola. While the group’s latest efforts have focused on Aramark employees, it promotes better working conditions for several other groups, such as adjunct professors.
Since November, SWJ organized at least 10 events, including rallies, meetings and social media campaigns, in an effort to raise awareness about the workers’ struggle.
Evodia Perez, an Aramark employee who has worked at Loyola for three years, said the students involved in SWJ played a major role in advocating for the new contract. She said the added health care benefits come as a huge relief for her family.
“From the deepest of my heart, I’m so grateful for Loyola students because thanks to them I feel much more in control of my life and I don’t feel no more worry about if my daughter gets sick because soon I’m going to have insurance,” said Perez.
Loyola student Mohamndi Khan, 21, said the new contract is a major win for the Aramark employees and SWJ, and that the university is living up to its Jesuit ideals of promoting social justice.
“I think it sets the tone for change, actually,” said the junior psychology major. “There’s a lot of movements going on campus and I believe that if we do parallel these issues and stand in solidarity with one another there could be a lot of positive change that comes to Loyola, which is very necessary at this point in time. It’s not like Loyola is a bad school or anything; it just needs change like any other university.”
The Phoenix contacted SWJ for a comment but did not receive a response by press time.