Fairness for SFU’s Food Service Workers

SFUFA has been following closely the situation facing over 100 food service workers at SFU whose terms and conditions of employment are in question following the University’s choice of a new food services provider.

SFU has recently selected Sodexo Canada to replace Chartwells as the external contractor providing university dining services. The workers employed to provide those services were initially unsure whether even their jobs would be maintained with the arrival of Sodexo, and continue to face uncertainty regarding their terms and conditions of employment.

Represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, these workers are among the most poorly paid on the SFU campus, many earning well below the recognized living wage, and are seeking to ensure that SFU’s new provider, Sodexo, honour the existing collective agreement under which they perform their work.

SFUFA has been engaged in discussions with senior administration on this matter, and has pressed the University to take steps to ensure that the new contractor respect all of the existing terms of employment of those who provide this service on our campus. As an institution that prides itself on its community engagement and its commitment to fairness and justice, we urge SFU to use its power as the contracting organization to insist that external service providers respect these values as a term of operating as part of the campus community.

Following earlier information that Sodexo would be meeting with UNITE HERE Local 40 to discuss details regarding the transition from Chartwells, it appears no such meeting has in fact taken place. SFU’s food service workers continue to have no assurance that the terms of their Collective Agreement will be honoured by the new contractor. Today it appeared that that Sodexo was calling a new meeting, inviting employees to attend but without meeting directly with the the union representing those employees or even ensuring its presence. Such an approach can only increase tensions and mistrust.

SFUFA will continue to pursue this issue and to press the University to take whatever steps it can to ensure that the values we purport to embody as an institution inform also our institutional relationships with third party contractors. A community engaged university is a university that uses its influence to extend its core values into public discourse and into the society at large. And that is work that begins here, on our campus, in our own community.