Earlier this month, nearly 150 workers, students, and community members delegated Bon Appétit Management Company at American University to say: we want real food, we want real jobs, and we want respect. Two Bon Appétit workers from across the country joined them in solidarity: Prince Jones from LaVerne University and Raquel Baptiste from Wesleyan University. Jones is currently leading his coworkers at LaVerne in forming a union, and delivered an inspiring speech to the delegation crowd. He urged the AU workers and their allies to remember why they are working so hard for real food and real jobs: because they, as workers, are the backbone of the food system, because they deserve professional respect, and because they want a sustainable future for their communities. You can read the full text of Jones’ speech below, and follow his efforts at University of Laverne here.
The question is why fight? Why do what we do?
Why confront the forces we are opposed by?
Why should we act on the feelings we have on the inside?
Why decide to make a move rather than be content with injustice?
Why organize? Why stand up for ourselves? Why take a stand at all?
I’ll tell you why.
We stand because
We’re beat up and held down
We stand because our voice doesn’t matter like it should
We stand because this is about more than being angry or having a bad day
We stand because
We’re tired of being trashed talked and disrespected in a professional work place
We’re human beings not animals or pets or sheep or mules or inmates in an asylum or slaves for that matter.
Our companies don’t own us
We are not their property they are not kings and queens and we are not there servants.
We work with them to provide quality service for the clients. We are a team and we deserve respect.
We stand with our brothers and sisters in the kitchen
We fight with them because we all feel the same way,
We fight because a fight for life liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a just fight!
These kitchens would be nothing without your hard work, your sweat and your blood.
You make the fact that they make money possible.
You are important,
You are somebody
You do have rights.
We are the back bone of our company
We cook and We clean
We sweep and We mop
We the people for the people
Is what this country was founded on
We are not the bad guys
We are not wrong
We just want to be treated right.
We fight for respect
We fight because we deserve better
We are the people and We have power.
We’re gonna fight and We’re gonna win!
We’re gonna fight and we’re gonna win!
We have the power because we know the truth.
We know what really goes on under the table
in fact some of us clean under the tables every night
So remember my friends brothers and sisters.
When they look us in the face and ask why we fight?
We fight because we too believe in a better and sustainable future.