By Kaye Burnet | News Editor
Duquesne’s food workers will take to Academic Walk today at 4 p.m. to rally for higher wages and job protection, according to representatives of service employee union 32BJ SEIU.
The union, which also represents food workers at the University of Pittsburgh, is in the middle of contract negotiations with Parkhurst Dining, the company that provides Duquesne’s food services. 32BJ SEIU District Director for Western Pennsylvania Sam Williamson said Parkhurst currently pays its union employees $15 per hour, on average. Williamson said the workers would like to raise that wage to $16, which is the minimum wage for other workers on Duquesne’s campus.
University spokeswoman Rose Ravasio pointed out that Duquesne does not set the wages for Parkhurst employees, who work in all the restaurants and kitchen on campus. According to Ravasio, the university does not play any role in contract negotiations between Parkhurst and its employees.
The Wednesday rally will take place outside, despite predicted snow, and will include appearances from local religious leaders, cafeteria workers from the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess.
The current contract between Parkhurst and its Duquesne employees was signed in 2013 and expires next month. According to Williamson, negotiations for a new contract have been going on since the beginning of January.
“This rally is designed to raise awareness of the contributions these workers make to Duquesne. They are valuable members of the community, and their hard work reflects that,” Williamson said.