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Aramark food workers’ union ratifies new contract

By Jason Herring, October 6 2017 —

A union contract between Aramark and the workers’ union that represents its employees at the University of Calgary was ratified on Sept. 23. The contract will grant on-campus Aramark employees provisions like wage increases and employer-funded benefits.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401 spent over a year negotiating for a union contract since unionizing in April 2016. The UFCW represents food service workers at Aramark-run vendors on campus, including Tim Hortons and Starbucks.

According to UFCW spokesperson Tom Hesse, 99 per cent of voting employees voted in favour of the new contract, something that he called the final step in the workplace’s unionization. Hesse estimates that about half of the union’s 200 staff voted.

“It was a very positive vote. Employees endorsed the hard work of their fellow Aramark employees,” Hesse said. “Employees felt gratified that their patience and persistence translated into almost 50 pages of new rights in their workplace.”

Other provisions in the contract include a clause that requires superiors to treat employees with dignity and respect, as well as a grievance resolution procedure involving a third party.

The union contract is set to end in 2019. Hesse says the UFCW plans to negotiate another contract at that time, with the hope that an improved economy gives workers more leverage.

“Now our obligation shifts a little bit. This is now a unionized workplace. We want to find ways to support Aramark and their success here, as they provide workers with employment and, now, a fair labour relations scheme,” Hesse said. “Now we shift from leverage mode to support mode.”

Aramark provided a short comment on the ratification of the union contract.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that works for all parties,” wrote Aramark vice-president communications Karen Cutler in an email statement.

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