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The Harsh Reality Behind Commons

dining restaurants


University of Hartford


The Harsh Reality Behind Commons

Aramark workers wages, benefits, and hours cut.


The shocking precursor article examining the devastating Aramark wage & health care cuts as it relates to the quality of life of their workersAccording to proxy statements filed for the 2015 fiscal year, while president and CEO of Aramark ™, Eric J. Foss, casually makes over $21 million in total compensation; Aramark™ workers are trapped in a struggle to make ends meet.

One morning as I simultaneously walked to the library and gave myself a pep-talk to—somehow—fit more biology into my head before my later test, I soon began to pass the sizable majestic windows of the Mortenson Library when I spotted a glimpse of red out of the corner of my eye. It was a sign. But really, it was an actually white paper sign. The meaning of this sign? Perhaps endless for the affected parties and their families. What I read that morning is something everyone at the University of Hartford, and truly at any university, should read (as it applies to many corporate giants, like Aramark™):

$77,836 per year
Living wage for Connecticut Residents with Families*
*Source: Christine Stuart, CT News Junkie “Report: Connecticut’s Living Wage is $19.08 an hour”
$28,500 per year
Annual Income for Full-Time Food Service Worker at UHart

As I researched further and talked with workers, I deemed it my responsibility as a student of the University of Hartford to get the word out about the injustices Aramark™ has proposed in their dedicated employees new contract proposal. This is the first of many articles I will be publishing to persuade contract renegotiation.

I first met Diana St. Mark at the bottom of Common’s in Hawk’s Nest. My first interaction with Diana left my heart warmed and generally left me a great deal happier. Was it the food that flip-flopped my dreary mood? Not quite. Though the food was my typical order which I do very much enjoy, it was Diana’s vibrant motherly energy that turned my frown upside down. Whether I had a good day or not, UHart's Aramark ™ dining service workers, like Diana, would pick up the pieces, not once failing to cure my case of “wrong side of the bed”.

These same workers who have an undeniable amount of compassion for the University and its students, are now facing Aramark's™ demands as issued in their new contract proposal. Aramark™ is seeking increases in employee cost sharing in health insurance and additional wage cuts. In other words, what was a free of cost health-care benefit provided to Aramark™ employees is now being subject to change in a major way.

The Local 217-UNITE HERE union represents the New Haven union chapter comprised of 850 college cafeteria workers; 120 of which operate at the University of Hartford. In a recent peaceful demonstration held Wednesday, November 2nd in front of UHart’s student union, some of the approximated 60 picketers held signs professing “Get a moral compass: Treat us with respect."

Diana, an eight-year employee of Aramark™ told the Hartford Courant that out of 120 workers in the union, only eight have 30.5 hours a week or more. It wasn’t until I met with Diana later that I found the supposed “eight workers” as recorded by the Hartford Current to have 30.5 hours or over; was actually only five workers.

What is considered a tactical approach on behave of Aramark ™ in order to cut costs, also results in most of UHart’s Aramark ™ employees not recieving health-care benefits (an asset granted to employees who work 20 hours or more). Diana asserted to the Courant, “We have people at 19.5 [hours] because the company has found ways to have them at 19.5."

Ummm…are we not allowed to round up in this situation? I mean—and I don’t think I’m the only one here—not one of my math professors ever told me to round down from 0.5.