Though they have gone unnoticed by many in the University of Miami’s community, Chartwells workers’ protests have been anything but silent.
UM’s Chartwells employees are seeking to unionize in order to demand better working conditions from the dining services corporation. These workers are unhappy that they continue to work full-time without any health benefits or raises.
Chartwells, the national company in charge of most food services on campus, has dodged the opportunity to explicitly defend itself. But as students who constantly interact with these employees, we cannot ignore when members of our UM community are not being treated as they should.
Most full-time employees in the state of Florida and across the country receive health-benefits for putting 40 hours a week of hard work and time into a company. Why should these Chartwells workers be excluded from this norm?
Chartwells workers are already offered some health benefit plan options – at a cost. But Chartwells workers make barely more than minimum wage, making the idea of them paying for health insurance out of pocket seem unrealistic. Regardless, it seems like Chartwells thinks that offering health benefits is more than enough.
These employees provide a huge service to us as students, as well as to staff, faculty and visitors on campus. At every booth in the food court and dining halls, Chartwells workers are the ones making our food, serving it and making sure we’re satisfied. For this reason alone, we should care that they too are satisfied.
In 2006, our hundreds of UM janitors and landscapers organized a strike against UNICCO, the national facilities management services corporation. Our on-campus UNICCO workers were also unhappy with their working conditions and benefits. But fortunately, UNICCO workers were successful in getting their wishes fulfilled and now have increased wages, seniority status, paid healthcare coverage and more. Although this process took four years to complete, they fought and got what they wanted.
We want the same success for our Chartwells workers. Serving hungry college students on a daily basis isn’t easy, and some even work more than one booth a day. These employees have definitely paid their dues and deserve more than what they are bargaining for.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.