75 employees at UNB obtain layoff notices from meals providers firm

About 75 meals service employees on the College of New Brunswick in Fredericton have been issued layoff notices, in response to the union, which needs the administration and a brand new employer to make sure jobs are protected. 

Adrienne Paradis, a nationwide CUPE consultant based mostly within the regional workplace for the Maritimes, stated the union came upon in November that UNB put out a request for proposals for the administration and operation of meals providers on the Saint John and Fredericton campuses.

She stated one thing did not look proper: the request for proposals did not embrace something that might guarantee the following supplier would make use of the present meals service employees and maintain their union advantages.

“I assumed it was a mistake,” stated Paradis.

The employees are members of CUPE Native 2266. 

Paradis stated she understood from meals service employees and former CUPE representatives these requests had a requirement to guard the employees throughout contract negotiations. UNB didn’t reply when requested to substantiate this by CBC Information.

Fall foliage is in the foreground, with two red brick campus buildings in the background
UNB didn’t comply with an interview with CBC Information, however in an emailed assertion stated the college is presently negotiating with an organization to take over meals providers. (College of New Brunswick)

The contract between Sodexo Canada, the present meals supplier at UNB Fredericton, and the college will finish Might 31. That is when the layoffs will go into impact, stated Paradis, if the staff are usually not rehired by the brand new supplier.

In response to a request for an interview, Sodexo stated it doesn’t touch upon ongoing contracts with shoppers.   

Paradis stated employees have by no means obtained layoff notices up to now throughout contract adjustments, and when meals service suppliers modified it was a “seamless transition.” This is the reason, she stated, some employees have been working with the college meals providers for 40 years or extra. 

Paradis stated the staff nonetheless have not been informed if they are going to be taken on by the brand new firm.

Negotiations underway with new firm, UNB says

UNB didn’t comply with an interview with CBC Information, however in an emailed assertion, Heather Campbell, affiliate director of communications, stated the college is presently negotiating with an organization to take over meals providers.

“We acknowledge that transitions of any sort may cause emotions of uncertainty,” stated Campbell. “As we negotiate with the chosen supplier, we acknowledge that the staff of all exterior events are the highest precedence for everybody.”

A man with a light coloured dress shirt and plaid tie.
Matthew Sears, a professor on the College of New Brunswick, stated the scenario units a nasty precedent in a unionized work setting. (College of New Brunswick)

Simon Ouellette, a communications consultant with CUPE, stated the union despatched an e-mail to UNB president Paul Mazerolle requesting a gathering to debate the scenario on Dec. 6, earlier than any layoff notices had been issued.

“We despatched the request again in December to satisfy to say, like, ‘Can we work this out? Can we will we make a deal? , are you able to repair this new contract … Are you able to make it possible for when Compass Chartwells hires individuals, that they prioritize and so they rehire the parents that had been there earlier than?”’ stated Ouellette.

Chartwells, a division of Compass Group Canada, is a meals service supplier based mostly in Ontario. In response to a query from CBC Information, UNB wouldn’t verify whether or not Chartwells has been chosen the brand new meals supplier for the college. 

Chartwells has been offering the service at UNB Saint John.

College and employees ask college to intervene

The scenario additionally garnered consideration from employees and college students as phrase unfold throughout campus. 

Matthew Sears, a professor of historic historical past at UNB Fredericton, wrote a letter to faculty administration that stated how “deeply disturbed” he was by the college’s remedy of the meals service employees.

The letter calls on the college to “intervene on this course of within the curiosity of our associates and colleagues who work in meals service at UNB.” It stated meals service employees have been stored in the dead of night about contract negotiations with nothing in place to guard their jobs, wages and dealing circumstances.

Sears stated extra 150 college and employees have since put their help behind the letter.

He stated the scenario units a nasty precedent in a unionized work setting.

A person standing outside in a field with water in the background. They have chin length hair, glasses and a are wearing a crocheted vest.
Sofia Erickson, a third-year UNB scholar, began a petition to help meals service employees who obtained layoff notices. (Submitted by Sofia Erickson)

“We’ve got a possibility right here, I believe, to deal with our colleagues higher,” stated Sears. “And on the very least, a part of the negotiation must be that the brand new meals provider has to proceed on with the CUPE unionized contract and to maintain the present employees on as a part of its deal to get the contract.”

Sears stated the college contacted him after he despatched the letter. He met with Kathy Wilson, vice-president educational at UNB, on Tuesday morning. 

Wilson defined that as a result of the meals service employees are usually not workers of UNB, he stated, there may be nothing the college can do to make sure their employment by the contract change.

He stated Wilson informed him that the college is attempting to complete contract negotiations as shortly as potential so the employees might presumably get issued new contracts from the chosen supplier.

Sears stated speaking with Wilson made it clear there are some inherent issues with outsourcing suppliers.

“The individuals who work for these non-public contractors can sort of be, , put to the aspect only for procedural causes, and that does not sit nicely with me, nor does the truth that they definitely have not been given any updates or communication in any respect from the college,” he stated.

‘They’re household to us’

Sofia Erickson, a third-year UNB scholar, additionally needed to take motion after they heard from a buddy concerning the layoffs round per week in the past. They instantly went on-line and began circulating a petition.

Days later that petition has nearly 430 signatures. Erickson stated that help speaks volumes about how upset the neighborhood is.

They hope the petition will present administration that the meals service employees on campus are integral members of the neighborhood. Erickson stated many college students see the meals service employees on campus daily and know at the least one by identify.

“These employees who’ve, , spent huge parts of their lives at UNB with the scholars in our neighborhood — they’re household to us,” stated Erickson.