Victory for Howard Dining Workers: Real Food Real Jobs Movement Picks up Steam

Spurring on the DC food service workers’ fight for greater access to fresh, healthy food and good, sustainable jobs using fresh-cooked ingredients, Howard University workers employed by Sodexo celebrated another victory of DC’s Real Food Real Jobs movement.

Following on the heels of a 400-person rally on U Street last week, workers at Howard University overwhelmingly approved a new contract with food service provider Sodexo yesterday. Similar to the landmark agreement between American University and Gallaudet Univeristy workers and Bon Appetit Management Company, UNITE HERE Local 23 members at Howard will see improved working conditions and have increased input into sustainability efforts. Wage increases and affordable health care, along with greater guarantees of a 40-hour work week, will make jobs more sustainable; but just as importantly, with the support of students, and anti-hunger and sustainability activists, workers won the right to a sustainability oversight committee and worker training.

“I am so excited by this agreement! I love real food, and I love these students,” said committee member Dorothy Samuels. “I tell everyone to eat healthy food, and now I have a way of sharing my ideas and experience with real cooking!” Jermaine Gaither, another member of the committee who has worked in Howard’s cafeteria for many years, explained that “this contract gives us even better ways of building our skills to make really good food for students here.”

Last week, Local 23 DC food workers and parking workers were joined by university students and community activists from across the city for a 400-person rally themed, “We Feed DC. We Are DC.” Urged forward by Reverend Graylan Hagler; workers from American University, Gallaudet University, Howard University, and the Nationals Ballpark; and CLC leader Jos Williams, the crowd marched along U Street calling for real food and real jobs across the city.

Workers at Georgetown University Law School, George Washington University, Georgetown University, and Trinity Washington University are hoping to continue with the precedent established at American University, Gallaudet University, and Howard University, bringing good food jobs and healthy food to DC for everyone!

This post was written by Amelia Kalant, UNITE HERE Senior Research Analyst.

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