Chef José Andrés Met With Union Push at Washington Restaurant

Biden ally known for humanitarian work faces test at home by Ian Kullgren

(Washington, D.C.)— Today, a supermajority of restaurant workers at The Bazaar by José Andrés in Washington, D.C., have announced their intention to form a union with UNITE HERE Local 25. The celebrity chef’s highly-rated restaurant is located within the Waldorf Astoria Washington DC hotel, the same federally-owned former Post Office that previously housed the Trump International Hotel.

“I am excited to join together with my coworkers to get the pay, benefits and workplace safety improvements we need. I want a union so that my children can have a better life than I have,” said Evelyn Perez, a busser at the Bazaar.

The organizing workers are composed of a range of job roles including hosts, food runners, cooks, waiters, bartenders and more. Bazaar workers hope that management will recognize the supermajority support amongst workers and voluntarily recognize their union.

“I used to work at MGM National Harbor, represented by UNITE HERE Local 25, and that was the only time I’ve ever been able to just work one job. I saw firsthand the power, dignity, and security that comes with union membership, and think we at the Bazaar all deserve the same,” said Charnisa Williams, a server at the Bazaar.

“I cannot afford health insurance through work, and feel stressed constantly by the lack of stability and issues with management that we deal with on the job. I’m proud to be organizing with my coworkers so that I can have the dignity and respect that comes with a union contract,” said Octavio Quevedo, a dishwasher at the Bazaar

Politico recently reported that since the transfer of ownership of the lease to the Waldorf Astoria, dining at the Bazaar has “become a way for the Democratic elite to stick it to the former president.” This followed Andrés’ decision in 2015 to cancel plans for his restaurant in the same building, formally managed by Trump International Hotel, in protest of Donald Trump’s derogatory campaign statements about immigrants. A majority of Bazaar workers are immigrants.

“The union organizing effort at the Bazaar is fundamentally an immigrants’ rights issue, and we are proud to support the workers involved. Unions like Local 25 empower immigrant workers to live in comfort and feel respected on the job, which is why we urge Bazaar management to voluntarily recognize the Bazaar workers’ union without delay,” Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA.

José Andrés currently serves as co-chair of the Biden Administration’s Sports, Fitness and Nutrition Advisory Council and has been a staunch advocate for human rights. Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration has been supportive of private-sector union-organizing in federally-owned buildings like the former Post Office.

“I was deeply heartened to learn about the important effort workers have undertaken to organize at the Bazaar. I hope that workers win their union quickly, so that their workplace concerns are addressed respectfully and at the table of equals that a union contract provides,” said Br. Ken Homan, SJ.


UNITE HERE Local 25 represents over 6,500 hotel, restaurant, and gaming workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. UNITE HERE’s membership is predominantly women and people of color, and hails from all corners of the planet.

With over 155,000 lifetime members across 46 US states, CASA is a national powerhouse organization building power and improving the quality of life in working-class: Black, Latino/a/e, Afro-descendent, Indigenous, and Immigrant communities. CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members.