http://www.local372.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/L372LOGO-768x521.jpg 768w" sizes="(max-width: 306px) 100vw, 306px" />72 YEARS AGO- 50¢ AN HOUR AND NOTHING MORE

In 1940 School Lunch Workers made 50 cents an hour and nothing more.  This meant no health benefits, story no job security, sickness and no pension plan.  There was no union, no grievance process and no way to fight back.

Then came Harry Gray, he was a Lunch Worker in the Central Kitchen of the Bureau of Lunches.  He was a worker, a fighter and a believer in people power and the power of unions.  In 1941, he put this beliefs into action as he began organizing other workers and “talking union.”  He spoke of better wages, better working conditions and a better way of life.  The more Harry talked the more workers listened.  By 1943, his “union talk” had organized 500 Central Kitchen workers.  As more people got involved, the organizing grew.  People like; Goodman “Goddie” Kerstein kept the momentum going and eventually this momentum led to organizing not only the workers of Central Kitchen but also the Lunch workers in elementary schools.  As more and more workers joined together, the union; Local 372 was born.

In 1945, the members of Local 372 were able to win their first pay increase of 15 cents, bringing them from 50 cents an hour to 65 cents an hour.  However, there was more.  The members were also able to win 20 vacation days and 12 sick days for all monthly/annual workers.  A year later members fought for and won the right to participate in the Board of Education retirement program.  Additionally full time workers had their work week cut from 42 hours to 37.5, with no decrease in pay.  It had become clear that the Lunch Workers and now members of Local 372 had left the days of meager pay and nothing more behind.