Workers at Penn Hillel’s Falk Dining Commons might obtain official union recognition by the end of the semester.
Their employer, the Bon Appétit Management Company, will be recognizing their request for union representation through a process known as a “card check,” according to Teamsters Local 929 Secretary-Treasurer John Preston, who met with workers on Thursday.
The company could have opted for a closed-ballot vote, which typically takes over a month.
Preston emphasized that the company’s decision is a positive gesture.
“It’s a good thing the company is respecting the [workers’] wishes,” he said.
“They really want to listen now,” said Troy Harris, a cook who has worked at Hillel for 13 years, “but it took a little push to get some answers.”
“I’m very grateful that they didn’t prolong it,” said Kareem Wallace, a cook and team leader in the campaign.
Last Tuesday, the 16 Hillel dining hall workers filed authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board requesting to be represented by the Teamsters union.
Several of them had been demanding better wages, paid sick leave and other benefits. Led by workers and student activists, the Justice on the Menu campaign sprouted from differences in the working conditions faced by union and non-union dining hall workers at Penn.
“We are looking for parity with the other unionized workers,” said Preston. But he added they had not began discussing the contract yet. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
The union, workers and company representatives will meet next Friday to finalize the process of representation, according to Preston.
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