On Thursday, Oct. 24 at approximately 6:30 p.m., the final numbers were tallied and the ARAMARK workers at Springfield College were informed that they had won the election for a union by a vote of 58-26.
“It was pretty exciting. Very exciting. It was like winning on a championship team,” Cheney chef and union organizing committee member Erskine Kelly said.
To approve a union, the workers needed over 50 percent of the vote. They ended up with a little over 69 percent. According to union representatives, there were only approximately five eligible workers who chose not to vote.
Voting took place during three intervals throughout the day, starting from 5:45-7:45 a.m., picking up again from 9:45-11 a.m., and concluding from 4-6 p.m. There was a voting booth set up in the Fuller Arts Center, where the confidential votes were submitted. The National Labor Relations Board oversaw the election.
A number of workers, faculty, students and union representatives were on hand when the votes were tallied, and celebrated a victory that was the result of many months of planning and preparing.
“We’ve been promised things before, and now we have legal backing to make sure some things happen,” Kelly said. “It feels good to have somebody to have your back.”
The group proceeded to walk through the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union and Cheney Dining Hall to announce the results to a chorus of applause from faculty and students present.
“The applause when we came through the cafeteria last night was…moving,” Kelly said. “We went around to the other employees and gave them hugs and told them we’d won.”
Kelly spoke for many of the workers when he expressed his gratitude for the support the workers received from students, faculty and staff on the campus of Springfield College.
“We want to thank all the faculty [and] all the students for all the things that they did, all the support,” Kelly said.
The newly established union hopes to begin bargaining the first contract immediately.