SGB votes to support Aramark workers effort to unionize

By Andrew Kutzer

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Journalism students wait outside the President’s Room during closed SGB vote | Photo by Andrew Kutzer, The Keystone

Journalism students wait outside the President’s Room during closed SGB vote

Photo by Andrew Kutzer, The Keystone

In a closed executive session, SGB voted to support the Kutztown Aramark Food Service workers’ right to organize. The resolution was adopted by two-thirds of the voting members present at the board meeting Oct. 6.

The written resolution reads: “The Student Government Board of the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania recognize: the right for Kutztown Aramark food service workers to organize, and support any initiative that results in the highest quality of service to the students.”

“The very few members who voted against [the decision] or abstained, I believe, did not wish our board to be involved. Clearly, the majority had spoken,” said SGB President Joe Scoboria.

SGB Vice President Kelsey Greth was one of the members who abstained herself from the vote. “I felt that I did not have enough information on the benefits to students and student workers to support the motion,” said Greth.

According to Scoboria, an executive session can be called when members have a need to discuss an issue without staff or the public.

“I called [the meeting] last Tuesday [Oct. 6] to review and vote on the resolution which I had written. The last time I called [an] executive session was last March, when voting on the resolution against the per credit tuition model,” said Scoboria.

According to Scoboria, of the many unions on campus and the food service workers are one of the few who have not unionized.

“There are about five unions on campus already. The only workers on campus that aren’t unionized are the food service workers.” said Scoboria.

According to Aramark’s website, the company serves 270,000 employers, providing food, facilities and uniforms services in around 21 countries.

According to the Director of Dining services Kent Dahlquist, dining on campus is outsourced through a bid process. The multi-million dollar contract with Aramark is in its fifth or sixth year, and it will last for at least four more years.

According to Dahlquist, the company provides food services to all of the food courts on campus including Chik-fil-A, Starbuck’s, the library’s Book and Brew and the Academic Forum food court area.

“Those are all Aramark employees,” said Dahlquist.

In an email to the Keystone, regarding the workers wanting to unionize, Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler said,” Aramark has a great deal of respect for our employees, and while we prefer that our employees deal directly with us on issues concerning their employment, we fully support their democratic right to understand all of the issues and choose for themselves on the matter of union representation,”

Christina Chang, organizer of service employees international union, and some food service workers met with SGB in September to gauge student support.

“I don’t think students realize how much power they have. They are the consumers of the university. If there were no students there would be no university,” said Chang.

According to Chang, there are around 100 food service employees, working for Aramark on campus. Students, who mostly work part-time, would not be eligible to join the union.

Workers who wish to unionize must file a petition, showing 30 percent support and other documents to their nearest regional office in order to start the process, according to the National Labor Relations Board.



Categories: News, Uncategorized

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