CSU cafeteria employees go on strike for a labor contract

Labor union files unfair labor practice against food company

December 6, 2012

(WBEZ/Adriana Cardona-Maguigad)
Candice Cain is a cafeteria worker. She wants a contract that would allow her to negotiate a better salary to support her child.

Chicago State University (CSU) cafeteria employees went on an one-day strike Thursday demanding a labor contract.

The workers are employed under Thompson Hospitality, the food distribution company hired by the university.

The employees become unionized last April, but have been unable to meet for contract negotiations with Thompson since June.

Candice Cain has been a cafeteria worker for two years. She currently earns $8.25 an hour and worries that without a contract, she will not be able to negotiate a better salary. She said a labor contract would offer job security and fair working conditions.

“We could be easily tossed away no job protection or anything here and these are the things that we need, you know.  Because, if you don’t have security on a job, you could be in one day and out tomorrow,” said Cain.”

UNITE HERE, the union representing the workers, said it filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company for cancelling negotiations.

“The unfair labor practice charge that we filed is the failure to bargain in good faith,” said union representative Carly Karmel.

The union also said that Thompson Hospitality indicated they might stop working with CSU due to a financial dispute with the university.

“On Tuesday we heard from a top official at Thompson Hospitality that they might not be coming back to provide the food service at Chicago State University in the new year due to a financial dispute they have at the university,” said Karmel. “That leaves a lot of questions for the workers that are employed by Thompson Hospitality.”

But, Chicago State University said it is not aware of any issues with the food company.

Thompson Hospitality declined to comment and workers are expected to end the strike Thursday night.