A group of nearly 60 Recovery School District (RSD) school custodians won a total of nearly $19,000 in back pay owed to them by their employer, Aramark.
Aramark is contracted by the RSD to clean its schools. During the week of August 28, Hurricane Isaac swept through New Orleans and surrounding areas. Schools and many businesses were closed as a result. Even though classes were canceled, Aramark, a Fortune 500 company, was paid.
Instead of paying workers for their scheduled shifts that were canceled due to forces beyond their control, the Pennsylvania-based company and its Wall Street owners stiffed New Orleans workers out of thousands of dollars of pay. The loss of income put many workers into precarious situations.
“Not being paid for one day let alone a week is a hardship for me. I had to borrow money just to make ends meet,” said Rosalyn Markum, custodian at Benjamin Banneker School and New Orleans native. “I’m not a Fortune 500 company. I don’t have the luxury of being backed by Wall Street. I’m a single woman and I work hard for every cent I get.”
With the help of her union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 21 LA, Markum and her coworkers called out Aramark about making a week’s work of profits off of the suffering of New Orleans and the New Orleans people. After six months of talks, the Aramark workers finally received four days of pay.
“Me and my coworkers didn’t take Aramark’s no for an answer. We knew it wasn’t fair for the company to receive taxpayer money, but refuse to pay us workers. This is my community and
I’m going to fight for what’s right,” Markum said.