Dining Staff Update – BA’s Response

So I’ve emailed Wendy and we’re waiting on an email from the union steward who deals with bargaining and the others I have contacted yesterday. In the mean time, Delmar Crim, Bon Appetit’s district manager has emailed me with his response:

Hello Holly,

Thanks for the time that you took to reach out to better understand our challenges regarding the dining service that we are charged to be providing you.

My first reaction is to apologize. In the thirty years plus that I have had in the hospitality food service industry, the first rule is to protect the customer from the challenges that we incur to bring the service to your table. That being said, I realize that I am now privileged to be a part of a culture that is interested in more than just what is in it for me attitude.

I personally take partial information as a bit of an affront. Out of respect to you and the student body that ultimately pays all of our salaries, I will try to be as transparent as possible in depicting a comprehensive disclosure of our business.

The average pay of our bargaining unity employees is 18.65 per hour. You could literally go from Las Vegas to the Atlantic shore and not find a richer average rate. The benefit package is fully paid by Bon Appetit “actually you”. Again this is a package that simply cannot be topped. It is a better package than administration, management, or mine. The health insurance is fully paid for by the employer, again almost unheard of. I can, if you would like, provide full details. But for the benefit of this communication, I will tell you that the comprehensive package costs you over sixty percent of the wage. This comes to a little over twenty thousand per year per person.

Normally food costs should range between thirty and thirty three percent in our end of the business, and labor just about the same. The balance is for cleaning supplies, paper products and if we run our business well some profit. The current labor model labor runs over fifty percent. As I have said a hundred times in conversations and negotiations, I am happy to be a party to a culture that the hourly workers are able to have a living wage. The facts are that with the high rate of compensation, we need to closely manage labor resources. With all of this expense, we still need to purchase great food for you to eat.

In the past there have been venues “Davenport” with many Monday through Friday jobs. Now there is a new center with seven day a week service and some shifts are weekend shifts. There really is no way around that if we are going to provide seven day a week service. Some people will have to work on weekends that are not used to it etc. That is what you pay us to do!

Our opening schedule reflects sixty nine full time employees. Last year Aramark had sixty eight. True to my promise of transparency, I will tell you that some of the concern is about people not getting benefits that got them last year. As I mentioned earlier business needs have changed. Everyone over twenty hours per week is eligible for full time benefits. Some of the jobs because of business needs have been reduced in hours or increased. Traditionally full time benefits kick in somewhere around thirty hours worked per week usually thirty two. Here they kick in at twenty hours per week. So not only do we have more full time benefit positions available, the positions are much richer in hours. In addition to this there are many more part time positions available. Some people are going to be asked to make some adjustments. Things have changed, it is of course our goal to have these changes reflect a positive net gain for you, and the bargaining unit team members that make all of this possible.

I need to also point out that assigning specific people to slots or schedules is not in our control as per the CBA. It is up to everyone to bid on the jobs available and through the bidding and bumping process procure the job that best fits their need.

Please feel free to distribute this to your peers or who ever else you would think relevant.

Delmar Crim


21 thoughts on “Dining Staff Update – BA’s Response

  1. Estrella

    first my biases: 1) I was a member of WSA’s executive committee 06-07 2) I was one of the 3 students on the committee that decided on the new food service provider.That being said I take issue with saying that its “kind of spoiled” for students to demand a certain quality out of the food that they’re forced to pay (fairly high prices at that) for, and the attempt to evoke an image of spoiled college students gluttonously feasting on french artisan bread (which I just want to point out is not more expensive materially than other kinds of bread it is more labor intensive) while a working class family goes without health insurance and now sick little timmy cannot go to the doctor (all because of the French bread!) isn’t really fair. Its not that I don’t agree that we should be aware of what repercussions our labor practices have on people and society at large and I am a firm believer that everyone should have the right to a decent standard of living and adequate healthcare, but I think that putting this on us may be asking us to shoulder too much of the burden, especially given that many of us are paying for our education ourselves or through loans. Is it then fair that my meal plan dollars went to ensure that one additional family had better wages and good healthcare while as a recent college grad I can look forward to paying back staggering student loans while working an entry-level job making less than the Aramark workers all while having no healthcare? I realize that there are many students at Wes all of whom come from different financial situations, but there are many of us for whom this scenario feels a little like stealing from Peter to give to Paul.Its not about unreasonable expectations of gourmet food its about expecting to be able to eat high-quality food that is appealing because it is what you will be eating every day, possibly with little or no choice in the matter. The food therefore should be healthy and present you with sufficient variety and choices. This is not only because hell, its more pleasant this way but also because food is such an integral part of health. I can only speak to my own experience, but I gained an unhealthy amount of weight my freshman year because the only healthy option in MoCon (summerfields was closed my freshman year) was the salad bar and that got boring rather quickly. Many students cannot afford to go out and eat off campus if they are not happy with campus food, so being able to expect a certain quality of food is the only way they can ensure a minimum level of quality for the food they will consume during the school year.As to what it is exactly that students value in a food service provider we (my fellow committee members and myself) tried to do our best to represent what students want so we put out a survey, you can see the results on the WSA voting site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/wsa/voting In order to make some sense of the results you can weigh the priorities numerically (I just did this quickly right now, giving 3 pnts to #1, 2 for 2 and 1 for #3 and disregarding write-in votes) to get the total number of votes to be 929 for higher quality, 666 for healthier, 662 for lower prices and 543 for worker contentment. It was still something that we brought up very vocally in meetings especially because unlike the other factors that students care about worker contentment is an almost exclusively student-issue.Ok, I’m done with potentially the longest comment on a blog ever, but as per usual, I’m open to continuing this conversation elsewhere if anyone is so inclined.

  2. Estrella

    first my biases: 1) I was a member of WSA’s executive committee 06-07 2) I was one of the 3 students on the committee that decided on the new food service provider.That being said I take issue with saying that its “kind of spoiled” for students to demand a certain quality out of the food that they’re forced to pay (fairly high prices at that) for, and the attempt to evoke an image of spoiled college students gluttonously feasting on french artisan bread (which I just want to point out is not more expensive materially than other kinds of bread it is more labor intensive) while a working class family goes without health insurance and now sick little timmy cannot go to the doctor (all because of the French bread!) isn’t really fair. Its not that I don’t agree that we should be aware of what repercussions our labor practices have on people and society at large and I am a firm believer that everyone should have the right to a decent standard of living and adequate healthcare, but I think that putting this on us may be asking us to shoulder too much of the burden, especially given that many of us are paying for our education ourselves or through loans. Is it then fair that my meal plan dollars went to ensure that one additional family had better wages and good healthcare while as a recent college grad I can look forward to paying back staggering student loans while working an entry-level job making less than the Aramark workers all while having no healthcare? I realize that there are many students at Wes all of whom come from different financial situations, but there are many of us for whom this scenario feels a little like stealing from Peter to give to Paul.Its not about unreasonable expectations of gourmet food its about expecting to be able to eat high-quality food that is appealing because it is what you will be eating every day, possibly with little or no choice in the matter. The food therefore should be healthy and present you with sufficient variety and choices. This is not only because hell, its more pleasant this way but also because food is such an integral part of health. I can only speak to my own experience, but I gained an unhealthy amount of weight my freshman year because the only healthy option in MoCon (summerfields was closed my freshman year) was the salad bar and that got boring rather quickly. Many students cannot afford to go out and eat off campus if they are not happy with campus food, so being able to expect a certain quality of food is the only way they can ensure a minimum level of quality for the food they will consume during the school year.As to what it is exactly that students value in a food service provider we (my fellow committee members and myself) tried to do our best to represent what students want so we put out a survey, you can see the results on the WSA voting site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/wsa/voting In order to make some sense of the results you can weigh the priorities numerically (I just did this quickly right now, giving 3 pnts to #1, 2 for 2 and 1 for #3 and disregarding write-in votes) to get the total number of votes to be 929 for higher quality, 666 for healthier, 662 for lower prices and 543 for worker contentment. It was still something that we brought up very vocally in meetings especially because unlike the other factors that students care about worker contentment is an almost exclusively student-issue.Ok, I’m done with potentially the longest comment on a blog ever, but as per usual, I’m open to continuing this conversation elsewhere if anyone is so inclined.

  3. Estrella

    first my biases: 1) I was a member of WSA’s executive committee 06-07 2) I was one of the 3 students on the committee that decided on the new food service provider.

    That being said I take issue with saying that its “kind of spoiled” for students to demand a certain quality out of the food that they’re forced to pay (fairly high prices at that) for, and the attempt to evoke an image of spoiled college students gluttonously feasting on french artisan bread (which I just want to point out is not more expensive materially than other kinds of bread it is more labor intensive) while a working class family goes without health insurance and now sick little timmy cannot go to the doctor (all because of the French bread!) isn’t really fair.

    Its not that I don’t agree that we should be aware of what repercussions our labor practices have on people and society at large and I am a firm believer that everyone should have the right to a decent standard of living and adequate healthcare, but I think that putting this on us may be asking us to shoulder too much of the burden, especially given that many of us are paying for our education ourselves or through loans. Is it then fair that my meal plan dollars went to ensure that one additional family had better wages and good healthcare while as a recent college grad I can look forward to paying back staggering student loans while working an entry-level job making less than the Aramark workers all while having no healthcare? I realize that there are many students at Wes all of whom come from different financial situations, but there are many of us for whom this scenario feels a little like stealing from Peter to give to Paul.

    Its not about unreasonable expectations of gourmet food its about expecting to be able to eat high-quality food that is appealing because it is what you will be eating every day, possibly with little or no choice in the matter. The food therefore should be healthy and present you with sufficient variety and choices. This is not only because hell, its more pleasant this way but also because food is such an integral part of health. I can only speak to my own experience, but I gained an unhealthy amount of weight my freshman year because the only healthy option in MoCon (summerfields was closed my freshman year) was the salad bar and that got boring rather quickly. Many students cannot afford to go out and eat off campus if they are not happy with campus food, so being able to expect a certain quality of food is the only way they can ensure a minimum level of quality for the food they will consume during the school year.

    As to what it is exactly that students value in a food service provider we (my fellow committee members and myself) tried to do our best to represent what students want so we put out a survey, you can see the results on the WSA voting site, http://www.wesleyan.edu/wsa/voting In order to make some sense of the results you can weigh the priorities numerically (I just did this quickly right now, giving 3 pnts to #1, 2 for 2 and 1 for #3 and disregarding write-in votes) to get the total number of votes to be 929 for higher quality, 666 for healthier, 662 for lower prices and 543 for worker contentment. It was still something that we brought up very vocally in meetings especially because unlike the other factors that students care about worker contentment is an almost exclusively student-issue.

    Ok, I’m done with potentially the longest comment on a blog ever, but as per usual, I’m open to continuing this conversation elsewhere if anyone is so inclined.

  4. Mad Joy

    “So they are getting shafted how?”Some of the workers are going to get shafted in that the benefits they had previously under Aramark – i.e. a few extra hours, or health benefits they had before to cover their families’ health – may be reduced or disappear entirely. It sounds like this won’t happen to all the workers, but to a considerable number, and this means that in the case of a family health emergency they might have no recourse. The especially bad part of this is that they’re being told so close to the start of the school year, so they don’t even have time to find other decent options for the year.It sounds like the health package they have planned is one that is kind of prepackaged and that they use at all the schools. If the health package is so incredibly inclusive and expensive, I still think it would be better for more workers to get the health coverage for their families, even if the coverage includes the essentials and a little extra, instead of a lot extra. However, because this is a prepackaged health plan, it sounds like that might not be possible. And, then again, lowing benefits (even if it enabled more people to get them) could be controversial, anyway.I do agree with you, other anonymous, that BA is not at fault for most of the problems. I think getting blindly and needlessly angry won’t help. But if the majority of students feel (as I do) that workers’ benefits are extremely important and we want workers to have the same benefits that they’d fought for under Aramark, we should make that known, and campaign for change.Again, I was always perfectly satisfied with the food from Aramark, but I know a lot of people weren’t. So maybe high quality expensive food matters more to them than to me – and more than the idea of the workers making that food getting paid enough to support a family does. I think that’s kind of spoiled, but I don’t know. This is just my personal opinion.

  5. Mad Joy

    “So they are getting shafted how?”Some of the workers are going to get shafted in that the benefits they had previously under Aramark – i.e. a few extra hours, or health benefits they had before to cover their families’ health – may be reduced or disappear entirely. It sounds like this won’t happen to all the workers, but to a considerable number, and this means that in the case of a family health emergency they might have no recourse. The especially bad part of this is that they’re being told so close to the start of the school year, so they don’t even have time to find other decent options for the year.It sounds like the health package they have planned is one that is kind of prepackaged and that they use at all the schools. If the health package is so incredibly inclusive and expensive, I still think it would be better for more workers to get the health coverage for their families, even if the coverage includes the essentials and a little extra, instead of a lot extra. However, because this is a prepackaged health plan, it sounds like that might not be possible. And, then again, lowing benefits (even if it enabled more people to get them) could be controversial, anyway.I do agree with you, other anonymous, that BA is not at fault for most of the problems. I think getting blindly and needlessly angry won’t help. But if the majority of students feel (as I do) that workers’ benefits are extremely important and we want workers to have the same benefits that they’d fought for under Aramark, we should make that known, and campaign for change.Again, I was always perfectly satisfied with the food from Aramark, but I know a lot of people weren’t. So maybe high quality expensive food matters more to them than to me – and more than the idea of the workers making that food getting paid enough to support a family does. I think that’s kind of spoiled, but I don’t know. This is just my personal opinion.

  6. Mad Joy

    “So they are getting shafted how?”

    Some of the workers are going to get shafted in that the benefits they had previously under Aramark – i.e. a few extra hours, or health benefits they had before to cover their families’ health – may be reduced or disappear entirely. It sounds like this won’t happen to all the workers, but to a considerable number, and this means that in the case of a family health emergency they might have no recourse. The especially bad part of this is that they’re being told so close to the start of the school year, so they don’t even have time to find other decent options for the year.

    It sounds like the health package they have planned is one that is kind of prepackaged and that they use at all the schools. If the health package is so incredibly inclusive and expensive, I still think it would be better for more workers to get the health coverage for their families, even if the coverage includes the essentials and a little extra, instead of a lot extra. However, because this is a prepackaged health plan, it sounds like that might not be possible. And, then again, lowing benefits (even if it enabled more people to get them) could be controversial, anyway.

    I do agree with you, other anonymous, that BA is not at fault for most of the problems. I think getting blindly and needlessly angry won’t help. But if the majority of students feel (as I do) that workers’ benefits are extremely important and we want workers to have the same benefits that they’d fought for under Aramark, we should make that known, and campaign for change.

    Again, I was always perfectly satisfied with the food from Aramark, but I know a lot of people weren’t. So maybe high quality expensive food matters more to them than to me – and more than the idea of the workers making that food getting paid enough to support a family does. I think that’s kind of spoiled, but I don’t know. This is just my personal opinion.

  7. Anonymous

    “Please feel free to distribute this to your peers or who ever else you would think relevant.”HA! Do you think he’s on to you?

  8. Anonymous

    “Please feel free to distribute this to your peers or who ever else you would think relevant.”HA! Do you think he’s on to you?

  9. Anonymous

    “Please feel free to distribute this to your peers or who ever else you would think relevant.”

    HA! Do you think he’s on to you?

  10. Anonymous

    I also agree, to a point. I mean, the so-so college campus food at MoCon for vegetarians/vegans had little enough variety over time that it became kind of unhealthy. But obviously that’s not really the point you’re making about frilly french breads, and I certainly enjoy fancy food less knowing that it was prepared by an unhappy worker. Anyway, I thought it was a good response, and I’m glad to see that they at least seem more than willing to disclose their positions immediately and clearly (even if they don’t budge). His argument raises an interesting question, though: is being better than everyone else in a competitive business environment justification for not being good enough from the perspective of individual workers? It does sound like they’re legitimately amazing by comparison to the industry as a whole, but I would be more comforted if he had said something about looking into ways of becoming even better (limited benefit packages for mid-level workers, maybe?). At some point, though, most of the fault does lie with the nature of business.

  11. Anonymous

    I also agree, to a point. I mean, the so-so college campus food at MoCon for vegetarians/vegans had little enough variety over time that it became kind of unhealthy. But obviously that’s not really the point you’re making about frilly french breads, and I certainly enjoy fancy food less knowing that it was prepared by an unhappy worker. Anyway, I thought it was a good response, and I’m glad to see that they at least seem more than willing to disclose their positions immediately and clearly (even if they don’t budge). His argument raises an interesting question, though: is being better than everyone else in a competitive business environment justification for not being good enough from the perspective of individual workers? It does sound like they’re legitimately amazing by comparison to the industry as a whole, but I would be more comforted if he had said something about looking into ways of becoming even better (limited benefit packages for mid-level workers, maybe?). At some point, though, most of the fault does lie with the nature of business.

  12. Anonymous

    I also agree, to a point. I mean, the so-so college campus food at MoCon for vegetarians/vegans had little enough variety over time that it became kind of unhealthy. But obviously that’s not really the point you’re making about frilly french breads, and I certainly enjoy fancy food less knowing that it was prepared by an unhappy worker.

    Anyway, I thought it was a good response, and I’m glad to see that they at least seem more than willing to disclose their positions immediately and clearly (even if they don’t budge). His argument raises an interesting question, though: is being better than everyone else in a competitive business environment justification for not being good enough from the perspective of individual workers? It does sound like they’re legitimately amazing by comparison to the industry as a whole, but I would be more comforted if he had said something about looking into ways of becoming even better (limited benefit packages for mid-level workers, maybe?). At some point, though, most of the fault does lie with the nature of business.

  13. Mad Joy

    Interesting.I apreciate that there was a prompt and respectful response – that counts for something. I also appreciate that running a large scale food enterprise on a college campus is difficult to do while balancing all the different needs and costs – especially when you’re consolidating MoCon and the campus center and so the total number of people running them at any one time is cut down. I also appreciate that BA seems to have be pretty good on paper with respect to workers’ wages and benefits.However, this doesn’t change the reality that some of the workers are going to get shafted in this shift – and I’m not really comfortable with that.My personal opinion is that I don’t really care about fancy French artisan breads – this is a college campus and traditional college campus so-so-but-still-edible food is OK with me. My personal opinion is that 50% of the costs going to labour sounds perfectly sensible and reasonable to me.I would really like to see Bon Apetit deliver and find innovative solutions (that’s what they’re all about, right?) to allow more people to get 20+ hours of work per week. Since it is a profit-oriented business, my hunch is that a significant number of the jobs may total to just under those 20 hours to save costs. I’d like to see that change. I’m willing to sacrifice French artisan breads for that. I’m not sure how much of the rest of campus agrees, but I hope it’s more rather than less.

  14. Mad Joy

    Interesting.I apreciate that there was a prompt and respectful response – that counts for something. I also appreciate that running a large scale food enterprise on a college campus is difficult to do while balancing all the different needs and costs – especially when you’re consolidating MoCon and the campus center and so the total number of people running them at any one time is cut down. I also appreciate that BA seems to have be pretty good on paper with respect to workers’ wages and benefits.However, this doesn’t change the reality that some of the workers are going to get shafted in this shift – and I’m not really comfortable with that.My personal opinion is that I don’t really care about fancy French artisan breads – this is a college campus and traditional college campus so-so-but-still-edible food is OK with me. My personal opinion is that 50% of the costs going to labour sounds perfectly sensible and reasonable to me.I would really like to see Bon Apetit deliver and find innovative solutions (that’s what they’re all about, right?) to allow more people to get 20+ hours of work per week. Since it is a profit-oriented business, my hunch is that a significant number of the jobs may total to just under those 20 hours to save costs. I’d like to see that change. I’m willing to sacrifice French artisan breads for that. I’m not sure how much of the rest of campus agrees, but I hope it’s more rather than less.

  15. Mad Joy

    Interesting.

    I apreciate that there was a prompt and respectful response – that counts for something. I also appreciate that running a large scale food enterprise on a college campus is difficult to do while balancing all the different needs and costs – especially when you’re consolidating MoCon and the campus center and so the total number of people running them at any one time is cut down. I also appreciate that BA seems to have be pretty good on paper with respect to workers’ wages and benefits.

    However, this doesn’t change the reality that some of the workers are going to get shafted in this shift – and I’m not really comfortable with that.

    My personal opinion is that I don’t really care about fancy French artisan breads – this is a college campus and traditional college campus so-so-but-still-edible food is OK with me. My personal opinion is that 50% of the costs going to labour sounds perfectly sensible and reasonable to me.

    I would really like to see Bon Apetit deliver and find innovative solutions (that’s what they’re all about, right?) to allow more people to get 20+ hours of work per week. Since it is a profit-oriented business, my hunch is that a significant number of the jobs may total to just under those 20 hours to save costs. I’d like to see that change. I’m willing to sacrifice French artisan breads for that. I’m not sure how much of the rest of campus agrees, but I hope it’s more rather than less.

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