The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

SLAP Protest on college green in support of Dinning hall workers Credit: Amanda Suarez , Amanda Suarez

After two days of negotiations, workers in Falk Dining Commons in Penn’s Hillel unanimously voted to accept a three-year contract with Bon Appétit Management Company last Friday.

The vote marked the end of 18 months of organizing by the Falk workers and Penn’s Student Labor Action Project to secure a contract between the Hillel workers and their employer, Bon Appétit. Both groups see this resolution as a major victory.

“It was great—in the big, big sense of the word … to sit down with your employer after so long of being overlooked,” said Troy Harris, who has worked at Hillel for 13 years.

Harris and Hillel cook Kareem Wallace, both leaders of the workers’ campaign, were present during the negotiations with Bon Appétit representatives. Secretary Treasurer Jon Preston and a union lawyer, both from Teamsters Local 929, also negotiated with Bon Appétit. The Falk workers joined the Teamsters in May.

Harris praised the Teamsters’ work with Hillel’s Bon Appétit workers, specifically noting “they walked with us, and we conquered.”

Related: Non-union dining hall workers to vote on unionization

A representative of Bon Appétit said the company was pleased, as well.

“The negotiations went very well,” he said in an email. “However, we do not comment on the specifics of collective bargaining agreements.”

The contract meets the demands made by workers during the Justice on the Menu Campaign.

These demands included an increase in wages and paid sick and personal days.

Additionally, the workers will no longer be at-will employees, whose employment can be terminated “for any reason or no reason at all,” explained rising College senior and SLAP member Eliana Machefsky.

Before signing the contract, workers were laid off at the end of each school year, according to rising College sophomore and SLAP member Clara Hendrickson. They would find out late in August if they were going to be rehired for the fall. Now, while they will not work at Penn during the summer when dining halls are closed, they are guaranteed a job in the fall.

“They don’t have to live with uncertainty of not being rehired,” she said.

Related: Hillel worker, Bon Appétit employee speaks out

According to Machefsky, most Hillel workers could not afford the health care plans offered by Bon Appétit before unionization. Because of the contract and federal Affordable Care Act requirements, many of the workers’ families will have health care coverage for the first time when the contract comes into effect in August. Health care options will be less expensive and more varied.

“Rather than throwing us out there with insurance our families can’t afford … [The Teamsters] are helping us choose a good package … and there will be a package to get my whole family covered,” Harris said.

“It’s a stepping stone,” he added. “We laid a stepping stone for a better future.”

This article has been updated to explicitly clarify that Hillel Falk Dining Commons workers are employed by Bon Appétit, and not Penn Hillel.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.