University of Central Florida SLAP Asks the Hard Hitting Questions
By Anabel Correa, University of Central Florida SLAP Treasurer-Elect
Orlando — On April 9, the Student Labor Action Project at the University of Central Florida demanded answers about justice for students and workers on campus from President John Hitt at an open forum. Rather than working with students to make positive change at UCF, President Hitt dodged questions and left important issues, like investing in private prisons and student debt, unacknowledged.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Tweet: Join @studentlabor in telling President Hitt that @Aramark workers at @UCF need fair campus labor standards.[/dropshadowbox]
We are most concerned about the non-existent labor standards for contractors, particularly Aramark, the major food distributor on campus and the third largest contract food service provider in the country. Aramark has a history of using scare tactics against its workers when they organize. In 2012, an Aramark Regional Director cut hours and threatened to fire workers who tried to unionize at Western Washington University. Aramark has retaliated against its employees as well when they fired two workers at a Boston convention center for union activity in 2008. In addition to worker intimidation, Aramark has a history of being a bad employer. In fact, workers in Philadelphia filed lawsuits against Aramark for wage theft and alleged the Aramark purposely made pay stubs complex so that workers would not know what they were owed.
When UCF SLAP President-Elect Ofelia Sanchez and Treasurer-Elect Anabel Correa pointed to instances of the company’s wage theft, worker retaliation, and union-busting, President Hitt responded that he has no role in telling Aramark how to run its business. The Vice President of Administration and Finance, William Merck, stated that this behavior is typical from these national companies and added that he is “pleased with the service that we’ve gotten from Aramark.”
Although students pay as much as $1,875 per semester for individual meal plans, and hundreds of community members and students work for ARAMARK, UCF administrators do not believe that they are responsible for upholding fair labor standards on campus. SLAP is organizing students and workers to pressure President Hitt to make campus a better work environment and to bring the student voice into making substantive improvements in UCF’s labor standards.