Philadelphia, PA—This Tuesday, March 15th Kutztown University dining workers rallied outside of Aramark’s world headquarters in Philadelphia to demand the food service contractor stop union busting and voluntarily recognize the dining workers’ union. Dining workers were joined by allied workers, activists, and elected officials, including Representative Malcolm Kenyatta and Nicolas O’Rourke with the Pennsylvania Working Families Party.
Kutztown University is the last University in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) where dining workers do not have a union. University leadership came under scrutiny last month after an internal attempt to thwart dining workers’ organizing efforts. As dining workers joined together to demand accountability from Aramark, Senator Nikil Saval (PA-01) pressed PASSHE Chancellor, Dr. Daniel Greentstein, in a hearing with the Senate Appropriations Committee as to why neither PASSHE nor Kutztown University has made an effort to support organizing workers by facilitating a labor peace or neutrality contract. Senators Lindsey Williams (PA-38) and Vincent Hughes (PA-07) remarked on the chancellor’s evasive response.
The Senators join a wave of support from elected leaders across the Commonwealth in admonishing the use of public dollars in a union busting campaign.
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Attorney General Josh Shapiro said:
“Strong unions ensure that workers receive benefits, have safe working conditions and receive a fair wage for a hard day’s work. Every worker in Pennsylvania deserves the opportunity to join a union, and any attempt to impede the right to organize is unacceptable. I will continue to raise my voice with all Pennsylvania workers who are fighting for representation in the workplace.”
State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta spoke, saying:
“There is nothing more powerful than working people standing up for themselves; working people standing up and organizing for fair pay, for dignity on the job, for healthcare, for respect. Whether we’re talking about organizing Starbucks or organizing Kutztown University, when working people come together we’re making common sense demands.”
Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym said:
“I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Workers United and Kutztown University dining workers in their fight for equity, respect, fair wages, and better healthcare. That is at the heart of this unionization push. Strong unions build strong school communities, so let me be clear — we will not and can not tolerate union busting. I join students from KU, these workers, and elected leaders from across the Commonwealth in calling on Aramark to voluntarily recognize the will of their workers and this union.”
Philadelphia City Councilmember Kendra Brooks said:
“I stand in solidarity with the dining workers at Kutztown University who are organizing for better pay, fair work conditions, and good benefits. All workers have the right to unionize for the collective good and improve their workplaces. I urge Aramark to refrain from any anti-union activities, recognize these workers’ union and sit down to negotiate a fair contract. It’s what KU workers, and all workers, deserve.”
PA Working Families Party Organizing Director Nicolas O’Rourke spoke, saying:
“WFP is built on a foundational, fundamental principle known as solidarity. […] Y’all are not fighting for something that’s all that big; that’s all that abnormal. What you are fighting for, very simply, is for a living wage and to unionize without it being busted up. This isn’t rocket science. This isn’t asking for the world and a half. It’s asking for and demanding dignity in the labor that you put forward.”