I have been following this inspirational and kinda weird worker justice campaign at UPenn.
The Kosher Foods Organizing Committee is an independent worker committee that went public three weeks ago with a huge protest. They organized partly in reaction to a decree by their employer, Bon Apetit, that the company was going to “make some changes.”
The workers were afraid of being laid off and they had also discovered that some other Bon Apetit employees on campus were members of ASFCME. They learned that these unionized employees were treated much better than they were.
Get that? Workers employed by the same company at the same location and doing essentially the same job are paid 40% less than their union counterparts.
If you have ever wonder why unions are important, there you go.
Anyway, Kareem, Rabia and Troy, the leaders of the Kosher Foods Organizing Committee organized a protest as a result. They had the help of the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP). This chapter of SLAP is also sort of strange.
Most of the time SLAP is directly affiliated and and organized by Jobs with Justice. This chapter has not historically been connected with JWJ though. I think that it was actually formed by UNITE HERE a few years ago without the involvement of JWJ. I think that UNITE HERE wanted their own student group but didn’t want to share it with JwJ but thought that the “branding” of SLAP was better for their effort to help a anti-union hotel chain from building on campus (a successful effort until now, but I hear that HEI hotel is trying to come back?)
So, anyway, the rogue SLAP helped form the independent Kosher Foods Organizing Committee.
After the Kosher Foods Organizing Committee went public, they talked with a couple of unions and decided to affiliate with the Teamsters instead of AFSCME.
Like I said, it is all very interesting.
Bon Apetit decided to not fight this arrangement and granted a card check election on Friday and the Kosher Foods Organizing Committee won the right to representation by the Teamsters.
They celebrated with a picnic yesterday. It was a moving event. Everyone there was in disbelief of what they had accomplished.
They are an example to any group of workers that want to organize.