A deal was struck last week that will see the management of Caretaking Services, a division of the Physical Plant department of the University of Manitoba, taken over by Aramark.
John Danakas, director of Public Affairs at the University of Manitoba, explained that the transition will take place over the next few months, with Aramark taking over management responsibilities in June. The university is expected to see savings of over $300,000 a year that could clock in at close to $1 million.
The deal is part of the university’s Resource Optimization and Service Enhancement (ROSE) project, which is aimed at reviewing and improving administrative and academic support services in order to deal with the university’s current financial challenges.
As a result of deal, four assistant managers and one manager have been given notice that their positions were discontinued.
Danakas explained that only the management of Caretaking Services is being taken over by Aramark, “not the delivery,” so the staffers within the department who are not management will remain but will be managed by Aramark.
John Urkevich, a business agent of the Association of Employees Supporting Education Services (AESES), the union representing the four assistant managers who have been laid off, said that he was not sure why AESES members were being let go and said the union is planning on challenging the decision, as he believes the deal is a violation of the union’s collective agreement.
“Our view is that, if Aramark is taking over management, they’re taking over those positions. [ . . . ] We believe that to be a violation of our collective agreement because they’re doing the work of our bargaining unit [ . . . ],” said Urkevich.
“We’ve got our legal unit working on it right now, but if we have any legs to stand on we are going to challenge it.”
Urkevich said that while he had heard rumours that the takeover was going to take place months ago, the announcement came out of the blue for him.
“It just shows a complete lack of respect for AESES at any rate; [ . . . ] they just go ahead and do what they want to do and don’t give a damn,” said Urkevich of what he felt was a lack of consultation from the university on the decision.
Frank Wright, chair of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 3007, which represents 450 support staff workers at the U of M working in the areas of caretaking, maintenance, engineering and food services, said members of local will likely not be affected because they are protected by the union’s collective agreement with the university.
“Our members are protected by our collective agreement, so nothing should change. I guess with any management coming in you never know what’s going to happen, but we do have a collective agreement in place and the university has to follow that,” said Wright.
However, Wright said he was also disappointed with the lack of consultation from the university on the new development.
“We all work here; if there’s changes that are going to affect our employees and our members, are we not supposed to be an employee of choice here and sit down with everybody?” said Wright.
“We’ll wait and see what happens. It could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing; time will tell.”
The ROSE project previously led to the contracting out of the Special Functions department, now Conference and Catering Services, to Aramark last July, which is expected to result in savings of up to $250 000 per year.
Since the switchover, some student groups have reported having problems with costs of booking rooms and room availability.