Volume 96, Issue 78
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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Huron College food fight

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

Huron University College Food Court staff and Chartwells Educational Dining Services both want to get the negotiation of a new collective agreement underway – now if only either side would show up.

The last collective agreement between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (Local 144), which represents the staff, and Chartwells, which signed a 25-year collective agreement with Huron, expired in August 2002, and negotiations between the parties have yet to take form.

"Due to scheduling conflicts on both sides, we are planning to meet on Apr. 1, 2003, pending confirmation from all parties," said Sarah Hada, communications manager for Compass Foods Canada, Chartwells' parent company.

The first session was cancelled due to illness in the staff's bargaining team, and the second was scheduled for last week, reported Gwen George, a Huron Food Court employee on the team, when explaining why Compass's negotiator did not arrive at the meeting.

"The application was submitted in accordance with the [existing bargaining agreement's] allotted 90 days," George said.

According to Carol Warner, OPSEAU's negotiator, the issues on the agenda right now are largely wage and working condition.

"Chartwells encourages the union to conduct its efforts with respect for Chartwells' employees' rights and privacy, and according to the law. We are proud to treat our associates, as well as our contracted employees, fairly and equally, and have a strong record of acknowledging and valuing the dignity and respect of workers," Hada said.

"We didn't get much, but we protected some things at the expense of the junior staff," George said of the last agreement. One consequence, though, is that Huron Food Court staff currently starts at around $4 an hour less than Food and Hospitality Services staff on main campus, she added.

There is also a time concern, as the food court closes for the summer at the end of the school year, George said. She explained that in the last round of talks, the staff met in March before they dispersed for the summer. If not settled, the talks could be delayed until September, she added.

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