Workers are fighting for a living wage, affordable health plan & benefits
Newark—It’s a first for 32BJ food service workers. On Monday, August 22, school cafeteria workers from six different school districts will begin bargaining for their first master contract with Chartwells. These hardworking men and women who serve and prepare school lunches for thousands of students every day are fighting for a living wage, an affordable health insurance plan and benefits. Currently, food service workers earn between $9 and $13 per hour. And full time employees pay approximately $2,000 annually just for single healthcare coverage.
“I take pride in my job because I know I am there for students—providing nourishment and encouragement,” said Leslie Williams, a longtime food service worker in the Orange School District. “But I don’t make enough money to feed my own family. Bargaining for a new four year contract will give me and hundreds of other food service workers the opportunity to fight for a living wage and good benefits so we can continue to keep doing the job we love and also provide for our families.”
“This is an exciting moment for food service workers because they are standing together to fight for a better life,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ Vice President and NJ State Director. “These hardworking women and men who feed and care for our children earn less than $20,000 per year—which is below the federal poverty level for a family of four. They deserve a family sustaining wage. By bargaining for one master contract, school cafeteria workers are joining forces to help improve standards and wages that will benefit them, their families and their colleagues.”
The new school year is quickly approaching so these dedicated lunch ladies and men are hoping to reach an agreement with Chartwells soon. Once an agreement is reached, the new contract will cover hundreds of workers from six school districts; South Brunswick, North Brunswick, Woodbridge, Hackensack, Orange and Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania.
*About 32BJ: With 155,000 members in 11 states–including more than 11,000 in New Jersey–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.