NEW ORLEANS - Service industry workers at New Orleans’ three largest venues have ratified union contracts with UNITE HERE Local 23. Newly-organized workers at the Superdome and Smoothie King Arena will receive their first union contracts, and workers at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will receive an updated agreement. The workers are employed by Sodexo, which is among the nation’s largest food service providers and one of the largest individual employers in the city of New Orleans.
“Congrats to both UNITE HERE Local 23 and Sodexo on this landmark agreement,” said Council President JP Morrell. “Our service industry workers keep our city afloat every day of the year, and deserve a seat at the table. This settlement will be life-changing to these new union members and also demonstrates a commitment on part of Sodexo to the hard-working citizens of New Orleans.”
"I want to congratulate the organizers, the united workers, and Sodexo for coming to a win-win agreement,” said Council Vice President Helena Moreno. “Giving working people a voice not only advances the economic security of their families, but it also improves workplace morale and enhances productivity. This secures a brighter future for one of our City's most critical assets."
The new contracts will increase the starting wage to $16 per hour for non-tipped workers, resulting in immediate raises of more than $5 for some employees. All other workers will receive $4 minimum in raises over three years. Other highlights include the ability to work year-round across all three properties, which will allow employees to meet eligibility criteria to access gold-standard union health care, seniority bidding for daily work sections, and additional benefits. The new contracts are identical and will impact a total of 1,000 jobs.
“The agreement between Sodexo and Unite Here is a major step towards improving economic stability for around 1,000 hospitality workers in New Orleans,” said District B Councilmember Lesli Harris. “The hospitality industry is essential to our economy, and these hard-working New Orleanians are the backbone and driving force that makes it a reality.”
"The contract agreement reached by Sodexo and the employees of the Smoothie King Arena and the Caesars Superdome is a significant victory for workers. The provisions for wage increases, union health insurance, paid time off, and job security will ensure that these employees are treated with respect and dignity. I commend both parties for their efforts in reaching this agreement," said District C Councilmember Freddie King III.
“The agreement reached between UNITE HERE and Sodexo-Smoothie King Arena and Caesar’s Superdome shows the many benefits to good faith negotiations focused on creating working environments that are safe and support greater productivity,” said District D Councilmember Eugene Green. “That higher wages will be paid to workers in all categories at the Smoothie King Center and at the Caesar’s Superdome is certainly good news. It is also very good news that employees will be eligible to qualify for an array of worthy benefits. I was raised in a house that included two members of the United Teachers of New Orleans union, and I know firsthand that Arena and Superdome workers, as is the case at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, will benefit greatly from the job safety, security and motivation that are the products of union involvement. Congratulations to Employer and Union here for the results of the ‘spirit of cooperation.’”
“I would like to thank the members of Sodexo and UNITE HERE for both team efforts in reaching an agreement for worker wages and benefits,” said District E Councilmember Oliver Thomas. “While this is a huge step in the correct direction, there is still a need for more positions to reach the $17.00 mark. As a growing city, the citizens need to be able to maintain as the cost of living rises.”
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Office of Councilmember At-Large JP Morrell