Local 26 files charges against Bon Appetit over warning issued to shop steward

UNITE HERE Local 26 is filing charges against Bon Appetit over a final warning issued to Mark Sims, chief shop steward of MIT’s dining hall workers’ union and chef at McCormick Hall. 

As shop steward, Sims represents MIT’s dining hall workers and works with Bon Appetit managers to resolve issues in the workplace between employees and management. Bon Appetit and its workers follow a union contract, which is meant to be enforced with the help of shop stewards.

Sims said in an interview with The Tech that he had approached management to bring up concerns a union member had about a manager. 

Sims then received a warning from Bon Appetit management, who described him as “aggressive, loud, and scary.” Sims, who is a Black man, feels that the discipline against him is racially motivated and limits his ability to advocate for other workers as shop steward.

By filing charges, Local 26 expects Bon Appetit to remove the discipline from Sims’ record.

Sims said that he appreciates “the support from students and the Student Worker Alliance.” 

The MIT Student Worker Alliance has organized a rally for dining workers that will take place on Feb. 22 over Zoom. A Facebook post announcing the rally writes, “Dining workers at MIT are often treated unfairly, are subject to racism and sexism, and in some cases are punished for standing up for dignity and respect on the job.”

Dining workers and student advocates will be present at the rally, where participants will discuss how they can “come together to fight for a just and equitable MIT.”

UNITE HERE Local 26 President Carlos Aramayo wrote in an email to The Tech, “We take this situation very seriously and expect a just solution. UNITE HERE Local 26 stands with Mark and we applaud his leadership in defending the rights and well-being of his coworkers.”

Local 26 represents food service and hospitality workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including workers at MIT.