With the university takeover of food services from Aramark occurring at the St. George campus on August 1, the university and CUPE have indicated that all former Aramark employees have been offered employment with the university.
“All Aramark employees were offered a new job with the university at a substantively higher rate of pay with a pension plan and benefits that they did not have before and the ability for them and their children to attend U of T for free,” said Sarah Jordison from CUPE Communications.
While employed by Aramark, hourly wages for most food services workers ranged between $12.00 to $12.80. The university offered food services workers wages at $20.29 an hour with benefits such as a tuition waiver for employees and dependents.
In May and June, supporters and active members of UNITE HERE Local 75 — the union that previously represented food services workers at UTSG — voiced concerns over whether all workers would be rehired by the university, the status of the seniority of the workers, and the 90-day probationary period. The union organized protests and a week-long hunger strike.
Following U of T’s takeover, food services workers are represented by CUPE 3261.
Representatives from U of T had one-on-one conversations with all former Aramark employees in order to establish what their duties at work were and the hours they worked.
“We tried not to change people’s lives too much so we met with them all individually,” Anne Macdonald, Director of Ancillary Services said. “We tried to stick with that but at the same time we are doing things differently, so there will be changes.”
Macdonald noted that most of these changes will occur in the type of work that people are doing. According to MacDonald, cooks can expect to be using different, more fresh, ingredients than they did when employed by Aramark.
Macdonald also told The Varsity that there were six or seven employees, out of 250 food services workers, who did not want to work for U of T; the university did not meet with these individuals.
“It’s not like it was a brand new venture to do this all ourselves, there’s some experience with respect to, certainly the things that count…cooking, the ability to cook and the ability to plan menus and to procure food,” Macdonald added, also noting that University College and Chestnut Residence already control their own food services.