Miscommunication around U of T’s decision to contract back in hundreds of foodservice workers is generating a state of fear that should not exist in the face of the facts.
In a time when multi-national corporations continue to lead the charge in driving down wages and creating an economy based on precarious work, we rarely get good news stories and it is important that we recognize them when they happen.
In an effort to provide more local food on campus U of T chose to end its contract with multi-national foodservice provider Aramark and instead bring the work back in house. Much has been said about what this means for the workers and much has been wrong. I would like to set the record straight.
All of the current Aramark workers have been offered jobs without having to re-apply.
As of August 1st, when this transition will occur, these workers will be covered by a CUPE collective agreement already in place for all other foodservice workers directly employed by U of T.
Joining this agreement will result in a significant wage increase; immediate enrolment in the extended health benefit plan; enrolment in the defined benefit pension plan; increased vacation time; and a tuition waiver. These workers will also maintain their seniority within the Aramark list.
We recognize that this is not the perfect situation for Unite Here, which currently represents these workers. They are losing members. We too have been there as a result of mergers in other sectors and we originally lost these members when U of T contracted out the work. But, at the end of the day, what is best for the workers has to be the most important consideration.
We will always stand in solidarity with Unite Here. The work they do on behalf of their members is inspiring. Allowing circumstance to divide us only makes our movement weaker.
Fred Hahn is the President of CUPE Ontario.