Produced by HuffPost's College Reporting team.
It was an unusual scene in suburban Maryland on Friday when 12 people, including actor Danny Glover and union leader Andy Stern were arrested outside the headquarters of Sodexo, a France-based food services company that supplies dining and facilities to countless schools and college across America. Chants of "clean up Sodexo," "yes we can," and "no justice, no pizza" were heard throughout the day, as more than 200 activists wearing purple shirts gathered outside the building.
SEIU, the union that organized the action, cited Sodexo's poor treatment of workers and substandard pay, as well as threats and intimidation against workers who pushed for unionization as reasons for the protest.
"These people getting arrested...it's...absolutely inspiring," said one SEIU member. "I hope they're watching up there."
The SEIU were joined by delegations from the French unions CGT and CFDT, as well as the English union Unison, who were traveling the country protesting Sodexo's actions. This action was the culmination of efforts that included 200 students shutting down the cafeteria at Tulane University, and 100 workers striking at George Mason University.
The action started off with some humor, as union members participated in a skit that depicted executive officers at Sodexo being "cleaned" in a giant inflatable pool filled with soapy foam, done in accordance with the theme of the protest: "Clean up Sodexo."
Following the skit, the crowd was organized to listen to speakers. During the talks, the police border surrounding the protest grew to include over 30 armed officers.
Outgoing SEIU president Andy Stern's words declared that the labor movement had gone global, saying "global companies mean global justice, global contracts, and global unions." He also stated that the goal of this new global movement should be to create "a race to the top, not a race to the bottom."
Representatives from CGT and CFDT spoke in French and agreed with Stern's vision. They referred to the protesters as their "comrades." Their statements ended with the crowd chanting the French slogan "Tous ensemble, tous ensemble! Oui! Oui!" (All together, all together, yes, yes!) Their British counterpart UNISON echoed the same points, and said that union workers in England found their strength inspiring.
However the most impassioned speech of the day came from actor Danny Glover, who fired up the crowd while sporting a yellow armband and waving a union flag. He told the protesters that they were "speaking truth to power" and put his main point simply: the workers are "getting screwed."
After the speakers were finished, the self-proclaimed "dirty dozen" crossed the police border, and stood arm in arm while officers read them their rights. They were eventually arrested. In addition to Andy Stern and Danny Glover, the arrestees included, SEIU Executive Vice President Mitch Ackerman, Terry Shelly, a Sodexo worker who was fired for trying to organize a union, the mother of a Tulane student who organized actions on campus, a Vietnam war veteran protesting poor quality food on military bases, and a University of Maryland student leader and organizer of United Students against Sweatshops. As each was arrested and led away, they were cheered on with chants of "the workers, united, will never be divided."