“We are the Union! United for Respect!”
Seven days until the election and we are united! My name is Matt Grimes and I am writing in support of the union at Springfield College Aramark. Over the past month and a half over 70% of my co-workers have come together to say we want a union. We wear our buttons with pride. We tell each other why we’re organizing. We keep each other strong. We all have our own reasons for why we want this, but in the end it’s simple. In the end it’s about respect.
I started working at Springfield College Aramark when I was 17. I’m 26 now and while I’ve worked other jobs in between, in the six years I’ve been at Aramark I have worked every station in the Union and Cheney Hall. Panini to pizza and now to entrée cook. My co-workers, the professors, and the staff have all watched me grow up along side the grill and in the kitchen. Springfield College is my home. You are all my family.
Unions are about workers coming together to demand something different. To say that we deserve more, to say that we deserve to make decisions about the conditions we work under. I love to cook and I love the people I work with. I want to be a part of making this job into a good one, into one I can be proud of and support my family on.
When a group of us started meeting and talking about if we wanted a union or not we started by asking questions. How is it that I have to live paycheck to paycheck? How is it that I can’t afford the healthcare because it would cost over $100 a week to cover me and my family? Why do so many of my co-workers work 38 hours a week, but aren’t considered full-time and can’t get access to benefits? Why are 90% of the workers here African American or Puerto Rican and none of us are in management? How is it that I have trained almost every supervisor who has walked through these doors and have not yet been promoted? How is it that after six years I only make $1.75 more than what I started with?
Management can’t give us real answers to these questions. Management can’t tell me why I’ve been trained numerous times for a Sous Chef position, but have been consistently overlooked while the ones they hire come in and out. Management can’t honestly tell me why.
In the time since we came together to let Aramark know that we wanted a union, attempts have been made to divide us. In mandatory meetings they told us lies about how much we’ll have to pay in dues and that the union can’t deliver on promises. What management doesn’t realize is that we are the union. We are the ones who have fought for this and we are the ones who will continue to stand up and have each other’s backs.
With one week to go before the election, I want to say thank you to the Springfield College community. Thank you for your overwhelming support. With your “We love Cafeteria Workers” buttons and words of encouragement, you all have really shown up for us. I hope you will continue to bring your energy in the days going forward. We are one Springfield College community united for respect!
And to my co-workers, stay strong! We are doing something together that is truly groundbreaking. I am so proud of the work that we have done. United we stand, divided we fall! On Thursday night we will be one step closer to a better future for us and for our families.
By Matt Grimes,