May 8, 2013
By Neal Tepel
MIAMI, Florida – A majority of food service workers at the University of Miami have voted to join 32BJ SEIU and authorize the union to represent them when they begin negotiating a first contract with Chartwells Dining Services. Nicole Berry, 34, who has worked at the university for over four years, said "This opportunity to negotiate for better pay, meaningful benefits and for respect and a voice in the workplace was the reason why we fought to organize a union."
Arbitrator Robert Hoffman certified the card check result bringing the 321 workers at cafeterias and dining halls around the university into the union on Friday May 3, 2013. 32BJ SEIU Organizing Director Rob Hill hailed the workers' struggle and congratulated them stating "This is truly a great victory for the UM workers, new members of 32BJ who are set to bargain their first contract," Hill said. "By organizing a union, they chose to bargain poverty jobs into good jobs."
The workers, mostly African Americans who make as little as $9.31 an hour or about $10,000 a year, wanted a simple, fair process to begin bargaining for the opportunity to earn a living wage, more meaningful benefits, and dignity and respect in the workplace.