UTSC cafeteria workers win fight to earn $15 an hour

Workers win concessions from subcontractor after weeks-long strike

UTSC cafe strike
UTSC workers spent nearly two months on strike before achieving a favorable outcome (UNITE HERE 75) Photo courtesy Unite Here

Cafeteria workers at University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus ended their two-month long strike on Friday as they successfully negotiated a pay hike to a minimum of $15 an hour.

About 70 workers had been on strike since Feb. 9 in the quest for a fairer wage from Aramark, the subcontracted firm at UTSC.

At any given point about 30 to 40 of them were on the picket line, said Marc Hollin, a spokesperson for the Unite Here union, which represents the cafeteria workers.

More than 16 per cent of the workers are to receive an immediate raise while every employee is to earn at least $15 within a year. The workers also won free dental coverage to begin immediately.

The union had won similar concessions from Aramark for cafeteria workers at York University in March. Hollin said the workers received tremendous support from students, faculty and staff at both universities as they struggled to seek the attention of the administration of universities and elected officials.

“Between the York strike and the UTSC strike we collected somewhere around 7,000 signed postcards, or petitions or letters, calling on both the university administration and the provincial government to step in and do what’s right,” Hollin said.

The union sent “big boxes” full of these petitions to government departments including Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office and the Ministry of Labour.

“The whole time the strike was going on we had a postcard or petition drive going on, with different letters addressed to both the President of UOT, Meric Gertler, and the principal of UTSC, Bruce Kid, calling on them to take adequate steps to end poverty wage jobs on campus,” Hollin said.

Aramark would not respond to questions about the issues raised during the negotiations.

Instead, it responded with a statement saying, “We respect and value our employees at UTSC. We are pleased the parties reached an agreement that worked for everyone. We are committed to continuing to provide a quality dining program for the entire UTSC community.”

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Posted: Apr 13 2017 1:01 pm
Filed under: Business News