Last week the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) announced the results of the election to represent the 2,300 cafeteria workers and noon time aides in the Philadelphia School District: members of UNITE HERE Local 634 voted by a 2:1 margin to stay with their union and rejected SEIU’s anti-union tactics.
After months of attacks directed by New York-based SEIU 32BJ, the PLRB counted 1121 votes for UNITE HERE Local 634 and only 551 votes for SEIU Philadelphia Joint Board. There were 10 votes for no union and 198 challenged ballots.
Local 634 members had already made their choice clear months ago. In March, Local 634’s Executive Board voted unanimously to stay part of UNITE HERE and leave the Philadelphia Joint Board. In April, two thirds of the workers signed a petition remaining UNITE HERE Local 634 and rejecting SEIU again – just as workers could choose a union under the Employee Free Choice Act. But SEIU wouldn’t take no for an answer. Instead SEIU filed for an election, stalling the contract negotiations underway with the Philadelphia School District and subjecting workers to months of dishonest attacks. And SEIU lost again.
Local 634 members are among nearly 30,000 workers across North America who have resisted SEIU raids and returned to or stayed with UNITE HERE, including the 2300 members of St. Louis’ Local 74 last month and the 2000 Delaware North company food service workers in August.
As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote:
I am proud that workers supported their union, UNITE HERE Local 634, and took a stand against improper and counterproductive raids. Unions should be working together to improve workers' lives, not conducting raids against workers who already have a union.
The workers’ contract with the Philadelphia School District expired September 30. Hundreds of Local 634 members rallied in September to demand a fair contract with the staffing and training they need to do their jobs and the wages and benefits they need to support their families.
Local 634 members cook and serve food, supervise children, and keep them safe in nearly 300 Philadelphia public schools and early childhood programs. Since 1977 they have been part of UNITE HERE, which represents food service, hotel, gaming, laundry, airport, manufacturing and textile workers across North America, including 8,000 workers in the Philadelphia region.