Georgetown steps up for service workers displaced by COVID-19

Will other Catholic colleges follow suit?

COVID-19 shutdowns in the food service industry are devastating working families across the country. As Catholics, we believe that we will be judged on whether we have fed, clothed and sheltered “one of these least brothers of mine” (Matthew 25:31-46). That’s why we are pleased to share that Georgetown University has performed a special act of witness and charity in this time of fear, intervening to protect the livelihood of displaced campus food service workers.

When the university closed the campus to prevent the spread of coronavirus among students and staff, Aramark and Bon Appetit, the food service contractors who staff the campus cafeterias and restaurants, began laying off employees. However, the union and the students informed Georgetown administrators what was happening — and the university’s leadership took action. They met with the contractors and hammered out an agreement ensuring that these workers would be paid through the scheduled end of the semester.

This is an act of evangelization that every Jesuit, and indeed Catholic, university and college can readily follow. Unlike airlines, restaurants and sports and entertainment venues, colleges and universities have not yet suffered a catastrophic loss of revenue limiting their capacity to provide succor for their employees, whether direct or indirect.

The Catholic Labor Network has addressed letters to Catholic university presidents across the country, sharing Georgetown’s powerful example and urging them to follow suit. Would you like to help us get the word out by contacting Catholic colleges and universities in your area? Email me at to take part in this effort.