The press release below explains the impressive case that EMU students, union employees, and other allies are making that there is no need for this rush to privatize food services at EMU, especially without a chance for the Administration to work with all concerned. Please sign the on-line petition, and if you can, come to the
Press Conference at 5 pm today Tuesday 6/14 at the EMU Library, Halle Auditorium.
And for the future…
Please plan to join us for our July “First Thursday” WeROC Meeting of the Whole, Thurs July 7, 5:30-7:15, at Ekklesia Fellowship Ministries, 123 N Adams in Ypsilanti. The leaders of our Action Teams will have updates on their grassroots work to build our collective voice for a more just Washtenaw.
News from EMU All Union Council
Students, Workers Say EMU Must Delay Decision to Outsource Dining Services
Likely new vendor, Chartwells, has served “mold, human hair and insects” to high school students;
Online Petition and Open Letter To Regents Call for Open Process, University-Wide Consultation
Ypsilanti – Students and workers from Eastern Michigan University called today for a one-year delay before any decision to outsource EMU Dining Services to a private contractor.
An online petition at MoveOn.org, which has already drawn hundreds of supporters, and an open letter to EMU regents call for “students, faculty, workers and their unions” to be consulted before any decision is made.
“When the majority of student stakeholders are absent from the table, then we are on the menu,” said Steve Kwasny, a student majoring in history and political science at EMU. “We eat this food. I strongly believe students should be considered before a major change in food services.”
At a media briefing on the EMU campus, union representatives questioned the apparently hasty bidding process for Dining Services, which provides services to thousands of students, faculty, workers and visitors.
On April 25th of this year a request for proposals (RFP) for food services was released by EMU’s Director of Purchasing at 4:23 pm, requiring an RSVP to a “MANDATORY” meeting the next day just 37 minutes later at 5 pm.
“What’s the big rush?” said Jason Crispell, president of AFSCME Local 3866, the union representing food service and maintenance workers at EMU. “There are millions of public dollars at stake here, as well as the health and well-being of thousands of students – and the jobs of our members.”
“What we’re saying is, this is a big decision,” said Crispell. “Let’s take some time and get it right.”
Up to 70 current EMU employees could lose their jobs if Dining Services is outsourced to a private contractor. The likely new vendor for food services at EMU is Chartwells, a subsidiary of a British firm called The Compass Group.
According to The Washington Post, students at a Connecticut high school served by Chartwells report “food that sometimes features mold, human hair, dangerously undercooked meats, insects and portion sizes fit for a small, starving child.”
“We’ve already seen the disasters that can happen when food service is privatized in Michigan,” said Howard Bunsis, a professor of accounting at EMU’s school of business and treasurer of the EMU-AAUP faculty union. “The private company that was hired in Michigan prisons prepared food that was contaminated with maggots. Let’s not make the same mistake with our students.”
The Michigan Department of Corrections terminated its contract with Aramark, Inc. after maggots were found in food preparation areas and 90 employees were dismissed for offenses including smuggling drugs into prisons, having sex with inmates, and participating in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.
Comments from petition signers who support a “a fair and inclusive process” before outsourcing EMU Dining Services include the following:
“There are rarely any real benefits to privatization. There are several other industries you can turn to for examples (child welfare, prisons, etc), and in almost every time the results are not positive.”
“As a faculty member and mother of 4 students at EMU, I think the current quality of dining services is excellent.”
“Privatizing always ends in poor service with devastating results for workers, usually with little in cost savings.”
“Having worked at multiple Universities and Colleges, I can only say that when dining services are privatized, the quality of food and service hit tremendous lows, while the increase in cost is outrageous. Please do not do this. It will send your tuition (board) higher and cause students who cannot afford it to eat off-campus even if they have a board plan.”
“Privatization has a track record of degrading working environments, service and quality.”
The EMU All Union Council includes unions representing tenure and nontenure-track faculty, food service and maintenance workers and clerical employees at EMU. Member unions include EMU-AAUP, the EMU Federation of Teachers Local 9102, AFSCME Local 3866, and UAW Locals 1975 and 1976.