The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

City Eats workers fight for better wages with help from SEIU-USWW

Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West to represent City Eats workers amidst upcoming bargaining
Sean Young
The outside of City Eats dining center as seen on March 16, 2024. City Eats is the main dining commons for San Francisco State University students who live on campus. (Sean Young/ Golden Gate Xpress)

Following recent surges in union actions at San Francisco State University — like the California Faculty Association’s strike on Dec. 5 and a Teamsters picket on Nov. 14 — Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW) has joined in, representing employees of SFSU’s dining hall, City Eats.

Despite SEIU-USWW having represented City Eats employees for over a decade, they have just asked for student support. On Feb. 12, City Eats employees stood outside the dining hall and passed out union T-shirts and petitions to students, calling on them to help advocate for better wages.

Madison Wise, an internal organizer and union representative for SEIU-USWW, and a cinema graduate student, felt that he entered the bargaining movement at a good time, saying that there is a lot of momentum behind supporting working-class people.

“We’re bargaining for a wage increase that reflects the economic conditions of the San Francisco Bay Area,” Wise said. “We want our workers there to be able to live with dignity and not struggle paycheck to paycheck.”

Currently, employees are in the process of planning out negotiations with the SEIU-USWW bargaining team to secure higher wages from Sodexo, the company in charge of City Eats.

Sodexo, a multinational food service and facilities management company, employs approximately 430,000 workers and, according to its website, “provides catering management and employee benefits to 80 million consumers daily in 46 countries.”

Historically, Sodexo and SEIU-USWW have butted heads on a national scale. In 2011, the local SEIU-USWW in Alexandria, Virginia, engaged in what Sodexo called illegal tactics to steer business away, while SEIU-USWW accused Sodexo of union-bashing and creating poor working conditions for its employees. According to Wise, the case was settled with limitations on the number of details allowed to the press.

City Eats employees currently make between $18.07 to $27.10, depending on their position and whether they are full or part-time.

Conversations around fair wages are now being brought up among employees at City Eats, and while there seems to be no foreseeable strike planned, they are asking for student support.

The League of Filipino Students and its sister organization GABRIELA have hopped in to help. Both organizations have a history of advocating for the Filipino community by protesting the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation or holding events educating the SFSU community about the struggles faced by the Filipino community.

Due to the large Filipino community that works within City Eats, they felt it was necessary to join them in advocating for a higher wage.

Asha Quibilan, a first-year humanities student and GABRIELA member, described wanting to join the efforts to help when they saw them handing out shirts outside their window.

“I really wanted to get involved and help them because I see them every day and it’s very personal — especially since I’m also Filipino and working class,” Quibilan said. “They’ve been saying, ‘We’re not asking for much; we just want to survive.’ That’s emotional to hear because people should be allowed to demand for more than that.”

Quibilan touched on the need for more staffing at Bricks and City Eats, the main dining centers on campus. Despite the long lines, there would often be a single employee working at one station.

Following the California State University’s decision last September to implement a tuition hike starting this fall, Quibilan expressed frustration over having to pay more while the quality of the Sodexo food did not match the price point of the meal plans.

The cheapest meal plan available at SFSU currently includes 15 meals per week, totaling $4,940 for the academic year. This stands in contrast to options offering 12 meals for $5,120 and 19 meals for $5,250.

Sophia McLoud, a second-year ecology student, is a member of GABRIELA and added to Quibilan’s sentiments about wanting to give back to the Filipino community by helping City Eats employees.
“​​The main thing that wanted me to get involved was just to stand in solidarity with the workers because a big part of our work — just one of the main focuses [of GABRIELA] — is serving the Filipino community here,” McLoud said. “One of the biggest exports of the Philippines is its labor. So just looking out here is important, because who else is going to look out for them?”

Sodexo representatives and City Eats workers at SFSU did not respond to requests for comment.

Quibilan hopes the City Eats workers meet their demands, saying, “I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since we’ve been at this.”

“It looks inhumane, what they have to go through with even having a livable wage. But the fact that I’m getting to know them personally enhances that [feeling] even more,” Quibilan said. “They’re human beings, so they should be able to have a livable wage — and more.”


This story has been edited for accuracy

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About the Contributors
Cami Dominguez
Cami Dominguez, Staff Reporter
Cami Dominguez (they/them) is a staff reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. They are majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. Cami has long had an interest in politics and, thus, local and grass-roots organizing. Born and raised in San Diego, California, they have previously been a staff writer in high school for Pulse Magazine, Canyon Crest Academy's publication. In their free time, they love binge-watching shows they have watched before, hyper-curating specific Spotify playlists, and snuggling up with any Sally Rooney book.
Sean Young
Sean Young, Campus Editor
Sean Young (he/him) is the campus editor for Golden Gate Xpress. He is a journalism major with a minor in California Studies. Originally from the small town of Sebastopol, Sean now lives in San Francisco. Before transferring to SF State, Sean studied journalism at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he was editor-in-chief of the college's student publication The Oak Leaf News. In his spare time, Sean can be found watching sports, listening to his vinyl record collection and reading the latest news from The New York Times.

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