Big Organizing Win in Louisiana

by Helen Cox  |  December 22, 2014

Big Organizing Win in Louisiana Sodexo dietary and environmental services staff celebrate the victory after voting for AFSCME representation. Photo credit: Helen Cox

SHREVEPORT, La. – By an overwhelming margin, Sodexo dietary and environmental services staff at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport voted Dec. 18 for AFSCME representation.

The 132-22 vote thrilled union supporters in the unit of 246 employees. “I’m excited to be a part of negotiating our first contract at the start of the year,” said Deerica Morris, a Sodexo housekeeper.

"Some of my coworkers were used to being disrespected on the job,” Morris said. “They had the attitude, ‘It is what it is.’ But once we started talking about the power of coming together with AFSCME, I saw them light up and it clicked that our jobs could be different. They saw that we could improve our livelihoods and make our future with Sodexo more secure.”

Janice Chalmers-Priest, a lab technician at the Health Sciences Center and president of Local 2649, helped organize the Sodexo workers in Shreveport. She said, “I’m seeing things change for the better in Louisiana and AFSCME is a big part of that. If we stay resolute and build our collective power, we’re going to be unstoppable.” 

The Sodexo win is the latest in a series of victories for labor in Louisiana. New Orleans cab drivers organized with AFSCME to fight back against unfair city regulations. The organized drivers were able to help elect a friendlier city council and remove an unjust Taxicab Bureau director from his position. 

Hospitality workers at New Orleans' Harrah's Casino and Hotel also organized to improve working conditions and pay last month. Earlier in December, members of AFSCME Local 1325, who provide city services to Shreveport residents, won a $1,000 lump-sum payment just in time for the holidays.

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