By: Samantha Sanchez, Managing Editor
Dominican became the third Catholic university to earn union representation with UNITE HERE on Feb. 10. Chartwells employees quietly organized themselves for the last two months before signing their cards and meeting with Chartwells to declare their intent. In an unusual occurrence, employees, Chartwells and UNITE HERE immediately recognized the employees’ wishes and agreed to collaborate instead of taking the discussion to a government-run board.
The university is following in the footsteps of what appears to be a national trend. In the past two years alone DePaul University, Loyola University, the University of Southern California, Sarah Lawrence College, and Hunter College have all earned union representation for their dining service workers. DePaul also employs Chartwells for their dining services and if Dominican’s workers strike up a similar contract they can have largely improved wages, affordable family health care benefits and protection for immigrant workers.
Dominican’s president, Donna Carroll, stated that the values the university holds made this decision easy.
“As a Catholic University, we believe strongly in the dignity of the human person and his or her right to free association, clear voice and a just wage,” Carroll said in an official statement. “The Chartwells workers are part of the Dominican University community, and we care about the quality of their working life. I appreciate the forthright manner in which Chartwells management and UNITE HERE Local 1 are approaching this union organizing drive.”
Not only was the quick compliance of the Chartwells Company and UNITE HERE unusual, it was also a surprise to see a university president speak out on the manner. Most of the universities have not had a statement made by their president.
Liesl Orenic, the director of American studies and the author of “On the Ground: Labor Struggle in the American Airline Industry”, says that the enthusiasm from the school and the ease of union recognition sets a positive precedent for the rest of the process and Dominican’s part in it.
“I hope that as this unfolds students and faculty show an interest in the process and that we can all use it as a way to understand how the values of this university fit with real life expertness.”