Cafeteria workers set to strike

Daniel MacEachern
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With no new contract on the horizon, Eastern School District cafeteria workers are set to walk off the job Monday.

About 120 food-service workers from 42 cafeterias, employed by Ontario-based Chartwells, will set up pickets, following a strike vote in late January that was 93 per cent in favour of job action.

Ed White, the workers' national representative with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said Friday the sticking point in contract negotiations is wages, but he didn't want to get into the details of offers from the company or the workers' demands.

Picket lines

"There'll be picket lines at a number of schools," he said, adding the picket lines won't block students or teachers from school property.

Also, where the pickets will be set up still has to be worked out, as some smaller schools involved have just one food-service worker.

"That's a decision we'll be working out over the weekend. In some cases there's one, in some cases, I think, the highest may be four to five."

White said the last time the union sat down with Chartwells to negotiate was in December.

"We've been in contact through the conciliation officer, and a couple of conversations with the employer, but there's been no face-to-face contact."

White said it's difficult to gauge how much public sympathy the strike will garner from inconvenienced students or parents.

"It's difficult to say in regards to support or alternative action that parents will have to take. I guess they'll make other arrangements, whatever it may be, whether it's packing lunch. I can't suggest what those arrangements may be," he said.

Parents advised

Ford Rice, the Eastern School District's CEO, sent a memo to parents and guardians Friday, advising them of the impending strike.

"Parents/guardians are advised to provide snacks and lunches for their children until further notice. All other school routines will continue as usual," he wrote. "The Eastern School District recognizes that this disruption in food services will be inconvenient for parents/ guardians and we hope that this situation can be resolved in a timely manner." Twitter: TelegramDaniel


Organizations: Chartwells, Canadian Union of Public Employees

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Recent comments

  • A mother
    February 12, 2012 - 09:52

    To start yes everyone deserves a good wage,I worked all my life in a cafeteria,we were paid a litlle higher then these workers,but then again we stand on our feet 10 hours a day we clean tables after customers all finished we sweep and mop floors after meals ar finished,we take out garbage from my understanding they don,t d o any of this it done by the janitors,they serve crap from my children tells me,mine rather have a sub sandwich or a packed lunch from home,they tried there pizza it's frozen pizza we use home when we are in a hurry,go other places where they have to clean tables,drag garbage around,clean floors all day long,and these people only get paid min. Wage.We striked for better money and god love the union crowd they went for jail for us,while we stood on the picket line the union reps. Still ot their pay,we still walked away with nothing,What a show,but if there is a strike I will drive across the picket line to drop my kids off,they will not be thrown out at the curb or on top of a snow bank...

  • response to last comment
    February 11, 2012 - 23:59

    I would like to know how these workers are going to affect our taxes when they are contracted out to an Ontario based company. I think we should all consider that fact . These women deserve to make a fair and decent living wage the same as everyone else.

    • Regardless of your opinion, it is the company that decides if these women deserve a living wage
      February 12, 2012 - 12:22

      It is the owners of the company that decide what the employees get paid....not me and certainly not you. Frankly, as a business owner, I decided which of my workers deserve a living wage, I decided which workers do not living wage, and I decided which workers were not even worth the minimum wage. You ask, how does contracting the jobs to an Ontario company affect our is simple economics....something tells me you didn't study economics. Let me emlighten you. If the Ontario company is successful in driving wages down, then this will eliminate the need for tax increases to pay these workers. If, on the other hand, these workers get wage increases, then taxes will have to be increased to pay them. Frankly, I would be fine with anyone doing the job from any part of the world if it prevents ME from paying more taxes. But here is a better idea. WHY is there a cafeteria in the first place. Do parents not send lunch for the kids? The post above makes it clear that the food is crap, so what are we even paying workers to serve crap food, yet along considering giving the a wage increase. Let's close the cafeteria, terminate the workers and sell off any equipement that the cafeteria has. Then lets reinvest the money in what is really important, not the unskilled workers, but rather the children.

  • response to leslie lannon
    February 11, 2012 - 21:49

    Leslie Lannon said "They know the students, by name, personality. They are an essential piece of the fabric of the school community." ......................right there is a problem....we don't need cafeteria workers who are part of fabric of the school community, we just need people to serve food. Nothing more nothing less. If we are paying these people to be part of the school's fabric, then I argue that we are paying for services that we don't need. We dont cafeteria workers to know the students by name and personality - that is what the teachers are for! It is not about what these workers do, what what they are needed to do. It is not the workers that deserve respect and support - it is taxpayers that deserve respect and support. And a good way to repect taxpayers is to make decisions that will not result in tax increases, EVEN if it means putting people out of work or cutting wages. The interests of the majority must be served, even at the expense of a minority. Taxpayers cannot continue to be hosed and squeezed while unskilled unionized workers get raises. It is not personal, it is just math.

  • Let's get the replacement workers in.
    February 11, 2012 - 11:15

    If given the choice of replacement workers or paying more taxes to give the unionized workers what they want, I say let the replacements workers in. I am not niave to think that non-unionized workers would lead to any savings for ME, but certainly compensation increases to unionized workers would lead to tax increases. The so-called scabs are just people who are willing to work, and work at a more competitive rate. Workers do not own the jobs, and are only entitled to be paid for the work that they do. This is one reason why employer, particularly those who hire unskilled worker (like me) simply terminate and re-hire new people just to avoid having long term employees with entitlements. Of the high performers (among the unskilled) I probably only retain the top 15%-20%....the average workers....I just hire on 6 month contracts, and never renew the contract and just hire somone else. It helps maintain operation flexability and allows me to reset the wage scale regularly. Note this will never work with a skilled and educated employees, but for those jobs that require no specialized skill or education, it works great! The schools with striking workers should try this, unless of course the workers require specialized skill and education to do their job. It is perfectly legal and very efficient.

    • leslie lannon
      February 11, 2012 - 18:32

      Sounds very much like a planted comment by the company, in question. All the more reason to support this all-female workforce, who are real people and who treat students like real people. They know the students, by name, personality. They are an essential piece of the fabric of the school community. They deserve respect and support--both lacking in the above comment. Solidarity.