Aramark Employees Elsewhere in N. America Strike for Higher Wages

Aramark workers across North America are threatening to strike for better wages and more benefits. However, such a walkout is not expected to occur among Aramark employees at Phillips Academy. In some cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington and Ontario, Aramark staff workers have gone on strike with the help of unions, such as the Canadian Union of Public Employees (C.U.P.E.), Unite Here Union and the Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.). According to the C.U.P.E., Ontario Aramark workers demanded an increase from “minimum wage” to “living wage” this summer. The employees had been earning between between 9.00 and 10.90 dollars an hour. At Andover, the Aramark management strives to maintain good relations with its employees. According to Commons Operations Manager Michael Giampa, Phillips Academy’s Aramark workers have never threatened to strike during his tenure at the school. “Aramark is a hot button for [unions] right now,” he said. “They don’t have their bread and butters – the autoworkers.” Aramark Commons worker Rosa Paulino said that she has never had any problems with her job. She also said that she was satisfied with her pay for the job. The Commons managers and employees work together to resolve conflicts that do occur. One such controversy occurred last year when the Commons managers tried to impose a new work schedule, with which not all employees were satisfied. Through collaboration, however, the issue was sorted out. For what they said were confidentiality reasons, the Commons managerial staff declined to comment on the salaries of Aramark Commons employees. Most Aramark workers earn hourly salaries and have yearly incremental wages. At Andover, Aramark tries to provide various benefits for its employees, including an employee of the month award. Giampa described the award as “a little way for [staff] to be recognized for doing a good job.” Managers also frequently hand out passes to movies and the grocery store as a way reward workers who go beyond their expectations. In January, Aramark will initiate a new employee rewards program called “Thrive.” Through this program employees can earn vacations, money and other prizes. Some of the more important benefits that Aramark provides include health insurance, dental insurance, vacation days, paid holidays and sick time. Ninety-five percent of Commons workers work full-time and are eligible for these benefits. Although the state of Massachusetts considers full-time work as 35 hours per week, Commons defines full-time work as 30 hours of work per week. Commons management said that Commons workers also possess plenty of opportunity to file complaints, as a way that Commons maintains communication between managers and the workers. First, Commons offers an “in-house, open door policy,” which means that staff can come in at any time to talk to a manager. These types of complaints can be as simple as changing an employee’s lunch hours. The alternative to speaking to a manager is filing corporate complaints. Employees are provided with telephones and the Aramark corporate telephone number for filing corporate complaints. Giampa said that he was not aware of any corporate complaints that were filed in the last year. Commons employees are also invited to yearly workshops and meetings. Mangers attend corporate management meetings while all workers attend workshops that emphasize important qualities such as team building and customer service.