Wespeak

The following is a Wespeak addressing BA’s policies. It will be published in tomorrow’s issue of the Argus.

By Lizzie Busch and Jessie Spector, on behalf of USLAC

We appreciate the attention BA and the administration have paid to students’ concerns, and we thank them for answering to those concerns in meetings with the WSA and through the Dining Services Frequently Asked Questions on the Wesleyan website. However, we disagree with some of the assertions that have been made.

“Bon Appetit pays fair wages and benefits to its workers, so its labor costs are high.” (Dining Frequently Asked Questions on the Wesleyan website in answer to why prices are high.)

Because of the contract that the union has fought for over 25 years, workers are paid 18.75 an hour. This may sound like a lot, but food service employees at Wesleyan work only eight months of the year. It breaks down to not a whole lot more than other food service positions. Bon Appetit Management Company (BA) is also owned by the Compass Group, one of the largest food service providers in the world. Last year, Compass made $19.5 billion in revenue. To ask students to choose between lowered prices and fair wages makes it seem as if these are the only options.

“We believe that the frustration workers have experienced with the
transition to new working conditions are significant, but we expect they will prove temporary.” (Dining FAQ)

While the transition to new working conditions may very well improve with time, direct violations of the contract are not just kinks to be worked out. Recently, BA posted a new schedule without first talking to the union stewards. Workers have been unable to negotiate their hours, and now some have schedules they did not bid for. BA’s history with campus unions is also worrisome. Soon after BA took over food service at Oberlin College in 2001, a worker there with strong ties to the union was continually harassed by BA management and then fired on vague disciplinary charges with no founding evidence. At Washington University, threats from BA managers and administration caused a union vote to fail by one vote. This was brought before the National Labor Relations Board and deemed unlawful union-busting. Because of this history, February’s contract negotiations between BA and the food service workers are worrisome.

“We spent 30,000 dollars in overtime last week.” (Delmar Crim, the Argus, September 25th)

That BA paid $30,000 in overtime in one week does not indicate that workers are being overpaid. Instead, it shows that facilities are understaffed and disorganized. Employees have said they’ve had to work longer hours to finish work that simply requires more people. Instead of doing the work they are supposed to, employees have also had to take time to look for things in a new and chaotic workplace.
Food service workers want to work the hours that have been cut from their positions, and facilities would run better if they could work those hours with regular pay and a sufficiently staffed workplace.

“BA made good on its pledge to the Wesleyan community to make fulltime jobs with benefits available to all Aramark’s fulltime, benefits-eligible employees.” (Dining FAQ)

More workers are needed on this campus because food production under BA is more labor intensive. However, in hiring new workers, Bon Appetit has violated the contract. Article 12.9 says that returning workers must be allowed to increase their hours to a forty-hour workweek with benefits before any new hires are brought in. This is why taking 4 hours from Sandy Baik—putting her below benefit level—and giving them to a new hire is a violation. Under pressure from the union, BA has given Sandy back her hours. But her case is not the only one in which BA has hired new workers instead of offering more hours to current employees. The necessary new hires can be made while still following union protocol.

“Giving custodial workers’ discounts on food will open a ‘Pandora’s box.’” (Delmar Crim, WSA forum.)

Aramark gave all custodial workers a discount on food at the campus center. Forty people do custodial work at Wesleyan. The food at Usdan is priced for students with meal plans; lunch can cost up to fifteen dollars. Granting discounts to custodial workers will not open a “Pandora’s box” of discounts. Aramark was able to find the money to extend discounts. The custodial staff keeps this campus running, and they should be able to afford to eat here.

“[The sushi workers] simply have no use for unions in their culture.” (Delmar Crim,
the Argus, September 25)

Regardless of what Crim says about “culture”, the issue remains that, according to the contract, all food service workers on this campus must be part of the union. Even though sushi production is subcontracted to another company, it is necessary that these workers be unionized.

42 thoughts on “Wespeak

  1. Anonymous

    financial aid at wesleyan is shitty. can we for once focus on STUDENT issues here, like how many are struggling to pay for college?

  2. Anonymous

    financial aid at wesleyan is shitty. can we for once focus on STUDENT issues here, like how many are struggling to pay for college?

  3. Anonymous

    When I was in grad school, I couldn’t afford to eat on campus. This was probably 10 years ago, and sandwiches ran $5-$7 each (and this was at a large public school). The postdocs and young faculty couldn’t really afford it, either. So we all just brown-bagged it, and enjoyed our undergraduate free lunch experience. The custodians did the same thing, and really didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

  4. Anonymous

    When I was in grad school, I couldn’t afford to eat on campus. This was probably 10 years ago, and sandwiches ran $5-$7 each (and this was at a large public school). The postdocs and young faculty couldn’t really afford it, either. So we all just brown-bagged it, and enjoyed our undergraduate free lunch experience. The custodians did the same thing, and really didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

  5. Noa

    Now that you mention it, providing discounts for custodial workers definitely isn’t on Bon Apetit. I mean, I’m not upset that they didn’t do it without prompting… the administration is who we should go to about this. Whether the administration wants to ask Bon Apetit to give custodial staff discounts through some sort of contract amendment, or whether they’re willing to simply pay for the discount, doesn’t matter to me. But custodial workers are out of Bon Apetit’s domain of responsibility and the administration is who we should talk to. Am I making a clear distinction where there isn’t one?What could possibly be wrong with posting a Wespeak before it’s published?

  6. Noa

    Now that you mention it, providing discounts for custodial workers definitely isn’t on Bon Apetit. I mean, I’m not upset that they didn’t do it without prompting… the administration is who we should go to about this. Whether the administration wants to ask Bon Apetit to give custodial staff discounts through some sort of contract amendment, or whether they’re willing to simply pay for the discount, doesn’t matter to me. But custodial workers are out of Bon Apetit’s domain of responsibility and the administration is who we should talk to. Am I making a clear distinction where there isn’t one?

    What could possibly be wrong with posting a Wespeak before it’s published?

  7. Anonymous

    in my understanding, weswings and red and black were “grandfathered in”, that is, they existed on campus before/as this contract was being negotiated, so they were allowed to stand as they had been functioning all along.

  8. Anonymous

    in my understanding, weswings and red and black were “grandfathered in”, that is, they existed on campus before/as this contract was being negotiated, so they were allowed to stand as they had been functioning all along.

  9. Anonymous

    great job uslac. many kudos. all the haters can suck it. question: regarding the necessary unionization of all food service workers on this campus, what makes the sushi workers eligible for this while the red and black/weswings workers are not?

  10. Anonymous

    great job uslac. many kudos. all the haters can suck it. question: regarding the necessary unionization of all food service workers on this campus, what makes the sushi workers eligible for this while the red and black/weswings workers are not?

  11. Anonymous

    It doesn’t matter.in a few months nobody is going to care anymorefind a way to interfere with BA profit…there is no other way to make them fulfill their promises”they have no use for unions in their culture”—-FUCK THESE GUYSCAMPUS WIDE HUNGER STRIKEor better yetCALL YOUR LAWYER PARENTS AND SUE THEIR ASSES

  12. Anonymous

    It doesn’t matter.

    in a few months nobody is going to care anymore

    find a way to interfere with BA profit…there is no other way to make them fulfill their promises

    “they have no use for unions in their culture”—-FUCK THESE GUYS

    CAMPUS WIDE HUNGER STRIKE

    or better yet

    CALL YOUR LAWYER PARENTS AND SUE THEIR ASSES

  13. Anonymous

    “Because of the contract that the union has fought for over 25 years, workers are paid 18.75 an hour. This may sound like a lot, but food service employees at Wesleyan work only eight months of the year.”So why can’t they find summer jobs like other seasonal workers? Many teachers don’t make that much money, but they have summers off! They either enjoy the vacation time, or they find a way to bring in some extra money. I’m sure that it isn’t that different with the food service workers. Do you really think they are sitting home sad because they wish they were behind a grill or cash register?

  14. Anonymous

    “Because of the contract that the union has fought for over 25 years, workers are paid 18.75 an hour. This may sound like a lot, but food service employees at Wesleyan work only eight months of the year.”

    So why can’t they find summer jobs like other seasonal workers? Many teachers don’t make that much money, but they have summers off! They either enjoy the vacation time, or they find a way to bring in some extra money. I’m sure that it isn’t that different with the food service workers. Do you really think they are sitting home sad because they wish they were behind a grill or cash register?

  15. johnwesley

    It seems a little inconsistent (actually, a LOT inconsistent) to argue the fine points of a union contract OTOH and then hold BA responsible for subsidizing forty members of the university community — that were never the subject of collective bargaining. If custodians truly can’t afford conveniently located alternatives to Usdan for lunch then, it’s the University’s responsibility to find places for them — not BA’s.

  16. johnwesley

    It seems a little inconsistent (actually, a LOT inconsistent) to argue the fine points of a union contract OTOH and then hold BA responsible for subsidizing forty members of the university community — that were never the subject of collective bargaining. If custodians truly can’t afford conveniently located alternatives to Usdan for lunch then, it’s the University’s responsibility to find places for them — not BA’s.

  17. Anonymous

    Fine wespeak. I’m glad I saw it here since I never read the Argus.@Anon #1, 12:57″it is a complete and utter waste of time to attack the administration and Bon Appetit without offering substantive, viable solutions for the problems raise.”That’s just not true. It’s ok to point out problems without offering solutions. People do it all that time. It’s becoming the new American pastime, what with the war in Iraq and all. Do you think everyone who protests the war has a viable solution? I doubt it, but they aren’t wasting their time protesting, not by a long shot.You seem to fall quite neatly into an ever growing sect at Wesleyan; the “tell people to quit bitching and do something positive” sect.Not that I disagree with that sentiment, it just seems to me that the people voicing that sentiment aren’t doing much else. By complaining all the time about how much people complain, all you do is establish another tier of bitching. You are meta-bitching, and that bothers me just as much.And I am already aware that by complaining about this, I am doing what you might call meta-meta-bitching. Unlike you, I’m aware of the irony of complaining about how much people complain, so please don’t bother pointing that out.I suppose my (horribly convoluted) point can be summed as follows: Bitching is in fact very useful and effective, as evidenced by your use of bitching as a first resort to accomplish your goal. As such I approve wholeheartedly of this wespeak.

  18. Anonymous

    Fine wespeak. I’m glad I saw it here since I never read the Argus.

    @Anon #1, 12:57

    “it is a complete and utter waste of time to attack the administration and Bon Appetit without offering substantive, viable solutions for the problems raise.”

    That’s just not true. It’s ok to point out problems without offering solutions. People do it all that time. It’s becoming the new American pastime, what with the war in Iraq and all. Do you think everyone who protests the war has a viable solution? I doubt it, but they aren’t wasting their time protesting, not by a long shot.

    You seem to fall quite neatly into an ever growing sect at Wesleyan; the “tell people to quit bitching and do something positive” sect.

    Not that I disagree with that sentiment, it just seems to me that the people voicing that sentiment aren’t doing much else. By complaining all the time about how much people complain, all you do is establish another tier of bitching. You are meta-bitching, and that bothers me just as much.

    And I am already aware that by complaining about this, I am doing what you might call meta-meta-bitching. Unlike you, I’m aware of the irony of complaining about how much people complain, so please don’t bother pointing that out.

    I suppose my (horribly convoluted) point can be summed as follows: Bitching is in fact very useful and effective, as evidenced by your use of bitching as a first resort to accomplish your goal. As such I approve wholeheartedly of this wespeak.

  19. Anonymous

    Sarah,I feel you were responding (in part) to my post. Contrary to your demeaning insinuation that non-USLC member are uninformed, I am proud to say that I am extremely well informed on the issue, probably better informed than you are.I agree with the sentiment of the wespeak. I am sympathetic with the union’s concerns. However, the problem with this approach is that it won’t do shit. All this wespeak does is it says “they are wrong”, but it doesn’t say why you are right, and it doesn’t offer a single solution to the many problems you point out in the administration’s talking points.Perhaps I misspoke when I said we should be optimistic – given the problems we are facing, optimism is not realistic. HOWEVER, it is a complete and utter waste of time to attack the administration and Bon Appetit without offering substantive, viable solutions for the problems raised. It seems like you place a higher value on making the administration look bad than you do on actually helping the workers.Looking forward to a meaningful response,Anon #1

  20. Anonymous

    Sarah,

    I feel you were responding (in part) to my post. Contrary to your demeaning insinuation that non-USLC member are uninformed, I am proud to say that I am extremely well informed on the issue, probably better informed than you are.

    I agree with the sentiment of the wespeak. I am sympathetic with the union’s concerns. However, the problem with this approach is that it won’t do shit. All this wespeak does is it says “they are wrong”, but it doesn’t say why you are right, and it doesn’t offer a single solution to the many problems you point out in the administration’s talking points.

    Perhaps I misspoke when I said we should be optimistic – given the problems we are facing, optimism is not realistic. HOWEVER, it is a complete and utter waste of time to attack the administration and Bon Appetit without offering substantive, viable solutions for the problems raised. It seems like you place a higher value on making the administration look bad than you do on actually helping the workers.

    Looking forward to a meaningful response,
    Anon #1

  21. Anonymous

    I think that this Wespeak fills a need for a response to some of the assertions that the administration has made in regards to Bon Appetit.When people in places of power are permitted to distribute inaccurate information, whether it seems important or not, perpetuates the belief that they are usually telling the truth, when this is quite often not the case. This is especially true in regards to this situation with the dining workers.I would argue that most students reading this blog have a lot less information than the members USLAC and the union stewards that wrote/approved this wespeak.The point of this wespeak is not to be optimistic. The point is to give another side to the information that is being presented by the administration. If you want to see you an optimistic wespeak then work with USLAC and the Union to change the situation so that there is something positive to write about.Thank you,Sarah Brown ’10

  22. Anonymous

    I think that this Wespeak fills a need for a response to some of the assertions that the administration has made in regards to Bon Appetit.
    When people in places of power are permitted to distribute inaccurate information, whether it seems important or not, perpetuates the belief that they are usually telling the truth, when this is quite often not the case. This is especially true in regards to this situation with the dining workers.
    I would argue that most students reading this blog have a lot less information than the members USLAC and the union stewards that wrote/approved this wespeak.
    The point of this wespeak is not to be optimistic. The point is to give another side to the information that is being presented by the administration. If you want to see you an optimistic wespeak then work with USLAC and the Union to change the situation so that there is something positive to write about.
    Thank you,
    Sarah Brown ’10

  23. Anonymous

    1. If it’s in the university dining contract, than a lawyer has looked at it. if there is a stipulation about unionized labor, it has legal force2.I think the argument ran something like:”The custodial staff keeps this campus running, and they should be able to afford to eat here.” The allusions to Aramark are meant to shed bad light on BA, who billed themselves as a much more socially and ecologically responsible choice than Aramark, but the writers of the wespeak clearly state that point. I really don’t get what you’re trying to insinuate about us loving aramark: we didn’t love aramark. To point out that even Aramark did this or that isn’t all that out of line. What is all this about different philosophies? what kind of a fucking nebula-clusterfuck assertion is that?

  24. Anonymous

    1. If it’s in the university dining contract, than a lawyer has looked at it. if there is a stipulation about unionized labor, it has legal force

    2.I think the argument ran something like:”The custodial staff keeps this campus running, and they should be able to afford to eat here.” The allusions to Aramark are meant to shed bad light on BA, who billed themselves as a much more socially and ecologically responsible choice than Aramark, but the writers of the wespeak clearly state that point. I really don’t get what you’re trying to insinuate about us loving aramark: we didn’t love aramark. To point out that even Aramark did this or that isn’t all that out of line. What is all this about different philosophies? what kind of a fucking nebula-clusterfuck assertion is that?

  25. Anonymous

    1. i don’t think you have the right to tell workers if they ought to be in a union or not. you can put all the flyers you want and write all the wesspeaks you want asking that they do but if they don’t, well leave it.and again, they are not directly under Bon Appetit! I am not a lawyer and nor are you so don’t make haphazard legal judgments.2. just because aramark did it doesn’t mean bon appetit has to. much of your arguments are premised only on precedents set by aramark. different companies have different philosophies. if the student body was so intent on keeping aramark, then maybe it would have played a more active role in the vetting process last year. i love the people at USDAN just as much as you do but please be more reasonable and realistic with your assertions.

  26. Anonymous

    1. i don’t think you have the right to tell workers if they ought to be in a union or not. you can put all the flyers you want and write all the wesspeaks you want asking that they do but if they don’t, well leave it.
    and again, they are not directly under Bon Appetit! I am not a lawyer and nor are you so don’t make haphazard legal judgments.

    2. just because aramark did it doesn’t mean bon appetit has to. much of your arguments are premised only on precedents set by aramark. different companies have different philosophies. if the student body was so intent on keeping aramark, then maybe it would have played a more active role in the vetting process last year.

    i love the people at USDAN just as much as you do but please be more reasonable and realistic with your assertions.

  27. Braille

    In 2006, Compass Group PLC was named the world’s 12th largest employer by Fortune magazine.wow. it doesn’t get much more corporate than that.

  28. Braille

    In 2006, Compass Group PLC was named the world’s 12th largest employer by Fortune magazine.

    wow. it doesn’t get much more corporate than that.

  29. Anonymous

    Very well written. I agree on most all points. HOWEVER, all it does is bitch about everything that is wrong. That’s all Wesleyan students EVER do. You don’t even offer any detailed, substantive, viable solutions for the slough of bitching.I agree that things are fucked up, but this Wespeak is relatively meaningless. I want to see another Wespeak in the next Argus that is more optimistic and talks about what, specifically, can be done to fix these problems, and what Wesleyan students can do to help make an optimistic hope for change into a reality.

  30. Anonymous

    Very well written. I agree on most all points. HOWEVER, all it does is bitch about everything that is wrong. That’s all Wesleyan students EVER do. You don’t even offer any detailed, substantive, viable solutions for the slough of bitching.

    I agree that things are fucked up, but this Wespeak is relatively meaningless. I want to see another Wespeak in the next Argus that is more optimistic and talks about what, specifically, can be done to fix these problems, and what Wesleyan students can do to help make an optimistic hope for change into a reality.

Comments are closed.