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A Living Wage: Orange County Food-Service Workers Authorize Strike, 235-0

Food service worker doing food prep with headline: A Living Wage: Orange County Food-Service Workers Authorize Strike, 235-0
Photo: Rene Asmuss via Pexels | Columbia County Observer graphic

ORLANDO, FL – Orange County Convention Center food-service workers have authorized a strike, and the window for that action opens today.

Members of Unite Here Local 737 voted on November 21 to authorize a strike any time after their contract with the French food service provider Sodexo expired on Wednesday.

The vote in favor of the strike authorization was 235 to zero, and Local 737 President Jeremy Haicken said the issues are clear.

"Sodexo workers need a raise," said Haicken. "That's been our clear message. We need a raise in what people make on the job, and we need a raise in what people get in their retirement. We have full-time workers earning as little as $13.60 an hour and we have people who have no retirement plan."

In a statement, Sodexo says they will "continue to engage in good faith during ongoing CBA negotiations, in a sincere attempt to reach a fair and competitive set of long-term agreements in a timely manner."

Contract negotiations are scheduled to resume on December 13.

MIT's Living Wage Calculator--LinkAccording to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology cost of living calculator, the living wage in Orlando is now more than $18 per hour.

In turn, Haicken said Unite Here is seeking a minimum wage of $18 per hour - along with improved retirement benefits.

"We're proposing a company-funded traditional pension plan," said Haicken. "Right now the workers have a 401(k). Very few people have enough cash on a weekly basis to put into a 401(k)."

In addition to Orlando, Sodexo is currently in contract negotiations with Unite Here workers at convention centers in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Sacramento and Detroit.

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