Georgetown’s dining workers officially unionized last night when employer Aramark Higher Education certified their union, according to David Schwartz (SFS ’12), a leader in the unionization efforts for several months.

The union, which represents workers from O’Donovan Hall, the Jesuit Residence, Cosi, Starbucks and the Preclinical Building’s Dr. Mug, will operate under the umbrella of UNITE HERE, a labor union that assists over 90,000 food service employees worldwide.

“The workers are excited about engaging in their first contract negotiations as a union,” Schwartz said of the talks with Aramark, which are set to begin soon.

Schwartz and other students and administrators have been coordinating with the workers in their push to unionize since July.

The current minimum wage for dining workers on the Hilltop comes out to $11.34, which can make it difficult for employees to cover health care costs, Schwartz said in February.

“Some of the demands that the workers had were over higher pay and over the way the company treats them,” said Gianna Puccinelli, a part-time worker at Starbucks. She is considering joining the union, she added.

On Feb. 9, about 80 percent of workers signed a request to Aramark asking the food-service company to remain neutral if the workers wanted to form a union.

“Aramark is neither anti-union, nor pro-union. However, we would note that for half a century, Aramark has enjoyed excellent relationships with the 35-plus different unions that represent our employees,” Karen Cutler, director of Aramark communications, said in an email at the time.

The university has supported the workers during the unionization process. In a letter sent to Aramark on Feb. 3, Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services and Assistant Vice President of Business Policy Planning LaMarr Billups affirmed Georgetown’s commitment to its workers.

Schwartz said that the student and faculty advisory group will also continue to be closely involved in the negotiations.

A few hundred students, including leaders of prominent campus groups such as Georgetown University College Democrats, NAACP, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán and EcoAction, as well as 30 faculty members and administrators, have been meeting with the workers since July to discuss the prospect of unionization.

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