Summer Organizers, Workers Seize the Day at Manhattan College

Last Thursday, June 16, 2011,  we had the opportunity to take part in a powerful worker-led action at Manhattan College.

Manhattan College replaced Sodexo with a company called Gourmet Dining to operate its cafeteria. As a result, all of the Sodexo employees were terminated.

Gourmet Dining announced that they would hold a hiring session. However, the opportunity had been announced not just to the incumbent workers, but to the general public!

On the day of the hiring session, we gathered with almost all former employees outside the facility. The employees then walked into the hiring session together, showing a powerful, united presence. We sent a message to Gourmet Dining that they were not dealing with individual workers, but with a strong collective force.

Afterwards, we interviewed workers about their experiences with the hiring process. Former employees re-grouped outside and nearly every person signed a union card, authorizing UNITE HERE Local 100 to represent them in collective bargaining. This was a great success not only for the union, but for the former employees as well. Those who previously worked at the cafeteria at Manhattan College felt empowered and were able to take an active role in protecting their rights and their future.

Being part of the action on Thursday and seeing dozens of workers come together and fight for their rights and their jobs as a united group reminded us of why we want to be a part of this movement. Because it allows the disheartened to hope, it moves the fearful to fight and it will transform the powerlessness of one into the victory of many.

-Yoel and Katherine, Summer Organizers, New York City