Philly stadium workers battle Aramark for fair wages and reliable health care
Emma Glazer / People's World

PHILADELPHIA—Forty-five demonstrators were taken into custody Wednesday during a protest outside of Aramark’s headquarters in Center City. As workers and community supporters—including Pennsylvania State Sen. Nikil Saval—took the streets, Pastor and Councilmember Nic O’Rourke led the crowd in a rendition of “Solidarity Forever.”

The protest was called by members of Unite Here Local 274, which represents Aramark workers at the Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field, and Citizens Bank Park. The demonstration was a great show of region-wide union solidarity, with workers from as far away as Washington, D.C., and Boston represented.

After the April 25-28 strike at Wells Fargo Center, stadium workers have continued their fight for pay increases and healthcare. Wednesday included a civil disobedience action on a major bridge as part of the protest.

Workers also occupied a key bridge as part of a civil disobedience action. | Emma Glazer / People’s World

Aramark food and beverage workers, custodians, and security staff say they are tired of the company’s greed and refusal to negotiate in good faith after months of bargaining sessions. With their schedules and paychecks dependent on the comings-and-goings of sporting events, conferences, and concerts, workers are left not knowing when they will have work, wages, or benefits.

“I’ve had 12 jobs since I was 17—the reason why I’m here today is because I’m tired of being a robot,” one worker told People’s World at a previous action.”I’m here to fight for everybody else and myself. We all have a life, we all need to live so [Aramark], give us what we need! Give us what we want–period.”

The same spirit was on display this wek.

Most workers in the sector have to work second or third jobs to make ends meet, and the validity of their health insurance coverage is unpredictable. Sickness has to be scheduled around whether or not they’re working for a particular period of time.

Even stadium workers who have been working for a decade or more are not guaranteed health insurance. In fact, fewer than 20 employees at the company have year-round coverage.

Furthermore, Aramark, like other U.S corporations, attempts to undermine worker solidarity by paying higher or lower wages according to the stadium at which individuals are scheduled. Local 274 would like to see standardized pay across all company-owned stadiums and venues, increased and equitable healthcare benefits, and higher pay raises.

Throughout the rally, Unite Here members and supporters repeated: “One job should be enough!”

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Emma Glazer
Emma Glazer

Emma Glazer is an educator and activist, writing from Philadelphia.