Tentative Chartwells contract agreement reached


On Sept. 23, DePaul Chartwells employees voted to strike if their demands for a higher wage and better health care were not met. UNITE HERE Local 1 / Twitter

After negotiating into the early hours of the morning, DePaul Chartwells finally reached a tentative contract agreement with parent company Compass.

“Last night, UNITE HERE Local 1 reached a tentative agreement with Chartwells at DePaul University,” Elliott Mallen, a UNITE HERE Local 1 spokesperson, said in a statement on Thursday. “More details will be released when workers vote to ratify the contract.”

The two groups had two days of negotiations last week: from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday and from 2 p.m. until midnight Thursday, said Chartwells employees and union shop steward Isabel Avila.

“It wasn’t easy,” she said. “It was proposal, proposal, proposal, refuse, refuse, refuse. So many things, they had to check. And finally, we have a deal.”

“I feel so good,” she said. “It feels really emotional. I didn’t do it for me. I did it for everybody.”

Nobody sees us. How hard it is to work here and feed our families.”

Students have stood in solidarity with Chartwells workers over the past few weeks. DePaul student organizations have hosted events to show support, and students have been sporting small pins reading “I heart campus workers.”

“I’m sure we couldn’t do it without the student support,” Avila said.

Three weeks ago, DePaul dining employees voted to authorize a strike against Chartwells with 92 percent support. If this agreement passes the rest of the workers, the strike will be averted.

The Chartwells employees have been fighting for a higher wage and consistent health coverage since January 2020. Many workers have been working at DePaul for decades and still receive minimum wage pay. Their demands included $19.88 minimum pay.

DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban stayed out of the labor dispute.

“I have a good deal of empathy for them, but it’s a relationship between Chartwells and the union,” he previously told The DePaulia. “You don’t insert yourself there … There are so many big companies: Chartwells, Aramark. It’s one or the other.”

Chartwells is a division of Compass Group, a global service company that operates in 50 countries and employs around 600,000 people worldwide. UNITE HERE Local 1 represents food service workers at Northwestern University as well, where workers have faced similar struggles.

The agreement was only agreed upon between the union representatives and the Compass Group. DePaul workers will vote to confirm the terms later this week.

The next negotiation day to finalize will be on Monday, Oct. 25.