NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Food service workers picketed outside the Sodexo cafeteria located in the Federal Reserve building today, saying their wages are not remotely keeping up with inflation. Sodexo cafeteria workers who feed and serve the Federal Reserve have an expired contract and are fighting for a new one with raises that are enough to afford the rising costs of housing, food, and transportation.
Hospitality workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 100 represents Sodexo workers across New York and New Jersey – including Bloomberg, Colgate, UFT, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and the Federal Reserve of New York and New Jersey. Local 100 represents food service workers at other notable New York institutions including The New York Times, the New York Stock Exchange, the United Nations, Madison Square Gardens, and Yankees Stadium.
Some Sodexo workers at the Federal Reserve said they lacked the money to cover expenses such as rent, food, and transportation in the past year. The average wage is only 62% of the average wage for workers in the New York metro area. Based on the fair-market rent of a two-bedroom home in New York1, a worker making the average wage would have 60% eaten up by rent.2 For the lowest paid, earning $16.45 an hour, it would be 82% of their income.3
“Sodexo employees need a raise, the money that we make right now is not enough with the cost of things like a gallon of milk and a dozen of eggs in New York. My rent has increased 25% this year,” said Virginia Vargas, a cafeteria worker with 27 years of service. “I wish I could have afforded to have retired already so I could enjoy my 3 beautiful grandkids more. I am 67 but I am going to stay here so we can win a new contract so my coworkers can quit their second jobs. I want them to say ‘Sodexo recognizes what we do.’”
Sodexo is also the nation’s largest federal food service contractor–serving 45.6 million meals annually to more than 160 military and U.S. Federal Government locations in 28 states. Next week on September 13, Sodexo workers who serve in federal buildings in DC will hold an action to shine a light on the plight of workers in federal building cafeterias who are treated differently from federal workers.
“With the cost of living going up and up, Sodexo needs to do more for their workforce. Our work matters to the functioning of essential businesses, banks, and venues and our members need jobs that are enough to live on. We feed New York and New Jersey, but we need to feed our families, too,” said José Maldonado, President of UNITE HERE Local 100.
UNITE HERE Local 100 represents over 17,000 service workers in cafeterias, restaurants, bars, delis, airports, and sports and exhibition arenas throughout New York City, Long Island and Northern New Jersey – including almost 500 at Sodexo, the contractor that employs Federal Reserve cafeteria workers in New York and New Jersey.
2 If the average wage is $22.10, that translates to annual earnings of $45,968. A monthly rent of $2,340 costs $28,080 annually, or 61% of $45,968.
3 "The lowest paid Sodexo worker at the Federal Reserve makes a wage of $16.45, which annual earnings of $34,216. A monthly rent of $2,340 costs $28,080 annually, or 82% of $34,216."