Our Recent Victories
In 2021, dining workers at Clarion University demonstrated remarkable solidarity during their successful campaign to win their union and bring improvements to their workplace. Nearly 100% of workers signed cards expressing their desire to join Workers United and almost as many took public action to demand recognition for their union and a fair contract.
The workers also enjoyed strong solidarity from Clarion students and faculty. In April 2021, student and faculty supporters demonstrated alongside the dining workers, demanding that the university and its food service contractor recognize the workers’ union and negotiate a fair contract prior to the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Dozens of other students and faculty who were away from campus due to the pandemic demonstrated their support for workers on social media.
In June 2021, the Clarion dining workers officially won recognition of their union. And in August, just in time for the start of the Fall semester, they ratified their first union contract, bringing what was for most workers, the highest raises they had ever enjoyed during their time working at Clarion. The contract also included, among other things, new and improved health insurance and retirement benefits, seniority rights, systems to give workers a say in workplace disputes and a fair process for handling discipline.
East Stroudsburg University
Around 100 dining workers at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) won their union in 2020 following a six-month campaign that overcame the toughest of obstacles: the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, an organizing committee of ESU dining workers had just built majority support for their union and were ready to stand with ESU students and faculty to demand recognition of the union from their employer and the university when COVID put a sudden end to in-person classes and closed down food service operations at the school. Despite the tremendous setback, ESU workers kept organizing throughout the spring and summer, meeting on Zoom and reaching out to coworkers by phone, text and email. Workers also met with ESU student leaders and launched a joint student-worker online campaign demanding both union recognition and COVID safety precautions on campus.
The ESU workers were rewarded for their persistence and solidarity when their employer agreed to voluntarily recognize their union in August 2020. A few months later, the workers ratified their first contract, winning major raises, important improvements to their health insurance and retirement benefits, job security and a real voice on issues arising at the job.