Food service employees at Aramark are currently in contract negotiations and close to striking. A tradition unlike any other, they rallied in front of an inflatable animal, this time at the sports complex:

Now, historically, organized labor goes with the inflatable rat. If you’ve lived in Philadelphia for 5 seconds or even set foot in the city for 5 seconds, you’ve probably seen the rat. That’s because we’re the most unionized region on the planet Earth, or at least it seems that way.

In this particular case, the rat is not present, but it looks like an inflatable cat smoking a cigar. A fat cat? Symbolic for a company that makes a lot of money and treats employees poorly (allegedly)? (EDIT – I am an idiot, of course the rat signifies scab labor, while the fat cat is for the corporate suits)

I’m not some labor expert, but the hospitality and food service workers are asking for healthcare, raises, etc. Nina Baratti at KYW News Radio mentioned this in a writeup:

Workers with Unite Here Local 274 rallied at the corner of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue. Hundreds of them work inside Citizens Bank Park, the Wells Fargo Center and Lincoln Financial Field, serving fans on game days.

“One of our biggest points is health care,” said Carlton Epps, a trustee for the union. “I work in all three buildings — probably close to 90% of the events between all three buildings. And the citizens of Pennsylvania subsidize my health care because Aramark doesn’t care.”

They’re looking for a master contract for employees that work in all three buildings. Part of the argument is that you’re not a seasonal employee if you’re constantly going back and forth between the sports complex venues over the course of a full year.

You may recall that Unite Here Local 274 had a hell of a time with Aramark during the pandemic, when the Sixers and Flyers stepped up to help their game night and part-time staffers at Wells Fargo Center. Hundreds of food and service workers were in a different situation, since they weren’t Comcast-Spectacor or HBSE employees. They were shit out of luck. I spent three weeks trying to get in touch with Aramark during the pandemic, and nobody responded to anything. Not a phone call, not an email, not a passenger pigeon. Nothing. Ultimately they laid off 2,000 people about 6 months later, which was probably inevitable. They are a global company with, at the time, 280,000 employees, so they got hammered like everyone else did back then. They just seemed to handle it a lot more poorly than other companies did, i.e. the PR strategy was to say nothing and respond to nothing. I’d email them for comment about this, but what’s the point?