Daily file illustration by Carly Shulman
Ninety-seven percent of the 229 dining workers who were laid off at the beginning of the pandemic are now being re-hired, according to a press release by Compass Group.
The Jan. 13 release cites the return of first- and second-year students to campus and low COVID-19 positivity rates for the decision to return workers to dining halls. According to the release, Chartwells Higher Education and Compass Group will supply workers with personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, along with other safety procedures such as Plexiglass guards and limited capacity in dining halls.
“Our dedicated and valued associates have been through a difficult time,” Jennifer Byrdsong, Compass’ vice president of dining operations, said in the release. “We are grateful for the opportunity to begin bringing them back. The returning associated will staff Northwestern’s dining halls planned to open for the Winter 2021 quarter.”
The announcement comes after months of organizing by Students Organizing for Labor Rights and UNITE HERE Local 1, the union representing subcontracted Compass dining workers. This fall, UNITE HERE Local 1 circulated a petition calling on Northwestern administrators to grant health insurance to laid-off workers and hazard pay during the pandemic. SOLR has also been collecting mutual aid for laid-off workers.
According to Eric Herman, a spokesperson for Compass, no decision has been made on whether workers will receive hazard pay or paid leave if they need to self-isolate. A collective bargaining agreement between Compass and the workers’ union is in the works, which will cover all issues regarding pay and other employment conditions.
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— Northwestern dining workers denied extension on health insurance, COVID-19 safety protections amid mass layoffs
— Northwestern still hasn’t paid subcontracted dining and service workers, students and workers’ union organize in solidarity
— Compass Group lays off 230 NU dining workers