By TIM ROWDEN
St. Louis — Aramark janitors employed at the Anheuser-Busch (A-B) brewery and corporate center are calling on local and corporate Aramark representatives to agree to a neutrality and card check agreement, which would permit janitors a fair process toward unionizing with SEIU Local 1.
Aramark janitors and Local 1 rallied Oct. 26 outside the brewery demanding Aramark recognize the janitors’ intent join the union. They were joined by members of UNITE HERE 74, CWA, Missouri Jobs with Justice, the Missouri Workers Center, St. Louis Aldermanic President Megan Green, Ward 1 Alderwoman Anne Schweitzer and Missouri attorney general candidate Elad Gross.
The 31 Aramark janitors at A-B are the only hourly employees at the brewery complex who aren’t represented by a union.
“The union hall is open to all,” said Jameson Ramirez, strategic researcher for Local 1. “This is about taking action, taking charge of your workplace to demand fairness, dignity, respect, not just good wages and benefits but these other immaterial things that are so important to a workplace. I know for many of these janitors demanding a union, this is an intimidating time, the first time for many of them to do this, but we’ve got their back.”
‘NEEDS TO BE A UNION JOB’
St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Megan Green said any job at A-B “needs to be a union job, needs to be a living wage job so that folks in our communities can support their families, that they can pay for child care, that they can pay for medical bills.
“Aramark is an extremely wealthy company that just last quarter had a record profit of $1.7 billion,” Green said. “Even though they typically are a union employer in other markets, they’ve made the choice not be union here. We know that they’re capable of being a good company to workers. We know that they are capable of being a company that embraces the union, but they’re just choosing not to,” Green said.
“The City of St. Louis and Anheuser-Busch both have this shared legacy of providing good unions jobs,” Green said. “We shouldn’t be expecting anything different today from Anheuser-Busch and Aramark than we have in the past.”
Ward 1 Alderwoman Anne Schweitzer noted that her grandfather, Gordon Schweitzer Sr., was a bottler at A-B and a union member, which launched his political career. He was a committeeman in the city’s 15th Ward and was the city’s elected sheriff in the 1980s.
“I know what it means to have good union jobs, and good union jobs here at Anheuser-Busch,” she said. “What we’re talking about today is Aramark janitors, people who have an absolute right to discuss joining a union, to join a union. And shame on Aramark for preventing them from having these discussions or trying to make it sound a like they can’t when they absolutely can.
“SEIU represents janitors that work in other places with Aramark in other places in the country,” Schweitzer said. “Aramark knows better than this. They should be doing better than this.”
A dozen or more Aramark cafeteria workers at the A-B brewery and corporate center are represented by UNITE HERE Local 74.
Local 74’s Vice President Reggie Johnson said UNITE HERE union members attended the rally to demonstrate their solidarity with the janitors.
“We’re supporting the workers,” Johnson said. “We just want them to know we’re here for them.”