On Wednesday afternoon, USC Hospitality and Auxiliary Services workers held a protest on Childs Way near the Ronald Tutor Campus Center demanding higher wages.
About 20 food service workers marched and chanted from noon until about 5 p.m.
This marks the first protest by USC workers in the spring semester. Though the workers conducted larger protests in 2014, this is the first demonstration on campus grounds.
The dialogue between the workers, represented by Unite Here Local 11 union, and the university began last summer.
“We have been negotiating since July but we have not reached an agreement,” said Maria Villalobos, a university food service worker. “Our lawyer and their lawyer have been in talks but we have not reached a deal.”
Villalobos, who has been a university employee for 42 years, explained that the protests have come after a series of unsuccessful meetings with the university. She explained how some of her colleagues have been suffering due to the low wages and limited hours allowed to work.
Last year, Local 11 union, along with the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, held demonstrations to the same issue. They claim that most of the workers protesting are paid less than $20,000 per year, a figure that traps them below poverty line.
“We have had three protests in the 42 years I have worked here,” said Villalobos. She explained that the contract negotiations have stalled because the university is offering an increase of about 25 cents per hour after five years since the last negotiations.
“We are going to continue to put pressure on them until there is a fair agreement. The current wages for these workers are simply not reasonable,” said Christian Torres, the union organizer who represents the workers.
If the university fails to meet the worker’s demands, another protest is scheduled for Jan. 29.