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    Pa. state senator among dozens arrested during Aramark protest outside Philadelphia headquarters

    30 days ago

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    Dozens of people were arrested Wednesday afternoon during a protest outside Aramark's headquarters in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania State Senator Nikil Saval was among the protesters arrested while calling for better wages and health care.

    Workers fighting for a new contract and wage increases forced the closure of the Market Street Bridge between Center City and University City, near Aramark's headquarters.

    "Right now we're just surviving. We need to live," said Tiffani Davis with Unite Here Local 274.

    Philadelphia police arrest Aramark workers protesting in Center City

    Union representatives say this is part of a months-long fight. Union workers had a four-day strike in April during 76ers games.

    Davis is one of about 300 union members who stood in solidarity outside Aramark's headquarters.

    "We need Aramark to cooperate and just raise the wages. I was at Wawa yesterday; it starts at $15 an hour. This isn't happening here. They have the power and the money to do it," Davis said.

    The protesters are food service workers at the three stadiums in South Philadelphia.

    "We're asking them now to come back and negotiate fairly. And we want Aramark to recognize that and to treat them fairly," said Aramark employee Kathy Hazel.

    They were joined by other protesters from other cities, including Boston and Washington, D.C.

    Aramark employees from the Wells Fargo Center
    , Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field are demanding family-sustaining wage increases and year-round healthcare benefits from company leaders.

    "We're the face of your company. We are the day-to-day movement of what keeps your work flowing," said Davis.

    "These workers are loyal to Aramark and we want Aramark to recognize that and to treat them fairly," added Kathy Hazel, of Unite Here Local 274.

    Aramark workers protest in Center City; drivers should expect delays

    Chopper 6 was overhead around 5:30 p.m. as police arrested 48 people. About half were Unite Here union members in Philadelphia, along with Senator Saval, who represents the district where the stadiums and Aramark are located.

    "It's important to put your body on the line and show you care. And frankly, enough is enough. The company needs to come back to the table, bargain fairly," said Saval. "They work year-round at these stadiums, but they don't reliably get healthcare. They've been fighting for a wage increase. We need family-sustaining jobs. We need jobs with real healthcare."

    Philadelphia police say those who were arrested will have to pay a $50 fine.

    Union members hope to meet with Aramark leaders soon to negotiate a fair contract.

    Aramark says it's committed to working toward a new deal and respects the rights of workers to protest.

    The company released this statement to Action News on Wednesday:

    "We respect the right of our employees to demonstrate. We have had several meetings with the bargaining committee in an effort to reach a new agreement, and we intend to keep working toward a settlement that works for everyone. We will continue to focus on delivering an outstanding fan experience for our clients and customers and would like to thank our dedicated employees from around the organization for supporting our ongoing contingency plans."
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