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June 13, 2024

46 people arrested during Aramark workers protest that blocked Market Street

State Sen. Nikil Saval was among the demonstrators taken into custody on Wednesday evening.

Demonstrations Unions
Aramark protest arrests Kristianna Brown/UNITE HERE Philly Local 274

State Sen. Nikil Saval, above, was among 46 people who were arrested during a protest held by Aramark workers on Market Street on Wednesday. The workers are seeking a new contract that includes higher wages and access to health care.

Hundreds of Aramark workers blocked off Market Street in a massive demonstration at rush hour Wednesday.

Demonstrators gathered on the bridge outside of Aramark's headquarters at 24th and Market streets beginning at 4 p.m., and disrupted traffic by sitting in the middle of the bridge. At 5:30 p.m., police began removing and arrested 46 people, authorities said. 

The protesters, primarily Aramark food service and concessions workers at the sports complex, sought to amplify their calls for wage increases and access to health care. 

The workers, represented by the Unite Here Philly Local 274 union, have been in contract negotiations with Aramark for months. Aramark has had separate deals with Lincoln Financial Field, Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Park. All have expired. The workers are seeking a single contract for all three venues.

"Food service workers at the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia earn significantly less than stadium food service workers in other major cities," Unite Here said in a statement. "Foodservice utility workers at the Cap One Arena in Washington D.C. and United Center in Chicago earn hourly wages of $21.50 and $21.55, respectively, while their counterparts at the Wells Fargo Center earn only $14.11 per hour."

State Sen. Nikil Saval, a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania's First Senate District, was among the protesters arrested. Earlier, he spoke at the demonstration.

"I refuse to let my constituents be mistreated by a wealthy corporation that gets richer every year from exploiting their labor," Saval said in a statement after his arrest. "Their fight is my fight. I'm with them until they're paid the wages and benefits they deserve."

Daniel Bauder, president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, and Gwen Mills, president of Unite Here International Union, also were arrested. Philadelphia Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the arrests.

Aramark released a statement following the demonstration: "We respect the right of our employees to demonstrate. We have had several meetings with the bargaining committee in an effort to reach a new agreement, and we intend to keep working toward a settlement that works for everyone."

In April, Aramark workers at the Wells Fargo Center held a strike while the 76ers were playing an NBA playoff game.