In 2018, this series won the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for In-Depth Reporting in the Texas/Oklahoma region and was selected as one of two finalists in SPJ’s national competition.
Chartwells/Compass Group is a multinational company that provides catering and food services to thousands of universities, schools, prisons and corporate cafeterias. Workers at the company’s University of Texas at Dallas operation alleged widespread abuse including sexual harassment by managers, wage withholding and lack of training. Amidst these allegations, efforts to unionize workers began quietly in May 2018, and by October 2018, university officials removed a union organizer from campus. The organizer was removed amidst talks between Chartwells and university officials to renew the 8 million dollar contract. Coverage of the unionizing effort, alleged abuses and university and company response sparked student outcry, including petitions, formation of several activist groups and the election of a student government president who ran on a platform against the company.