J Street workers file Aramark complaints

Two J Street workers have filed official complaints against a GW food contractor for mismanagement, and more than 20 others plan to file Monday, workers said this week.

Problems that span at least two years stem from practices of managers who workers say restrict their right to union representatives and displace union supervisors, among other complaints.

J Street employees said they are filing grievances with the National Labor Relations Board, which investigates unfair labor practice claims. Two were filed Sept. 28.

Workers said they also plan to file grievances against their own union, Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 25, for negligence in processing previous grievances.

Officials from the local union were unavailable for comment.

Employees allege that Aramark managers have violated a two-year-old contract by replacing veteran J Street workers with non-union Aramark managers.

One employee, who previously worked as a supervisor but is now a cashier, said a non-union Aramark supervisor took over. The employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, still receives the same pay but no longer has the same duties, the worker said.

“Their major goal is to eliminate the union from GWU,” another employee said.

There are fewer unionized workers in supervisor positions. But, Jim Gillespie, senior food services director for Armark, said but he has not decreased the number of supervisors watching over J Street.

“We tried in the past to have union supervisors, and that didn’t work,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said worker agreements allow him to determine the responsibilities of employees.

J Street employees said Aramark managers also have kept employees from speaking with their union representative after being reprimanded.

“The contract clearly states that you can definitely conduct union business if it doesn’t interfere with production,” one employee said.

Gillespie said in response to the allegation, “I follow all the guidelines outlined in the bargaining agreement.”

Other J Street employees said they were forced to speak with Aramark managers without a union representative present, which violates union agreements.

If employees say they want union representation, Gillespie said, managers discontinue the conversation until they get it.

One employee said the new supervisors, who are not part of the union, work alongside J Street workers in violation of the agreement. She said it forbids non-union supervisors from performing the duties of union employees, except for the purpose of giving instruction to employees.

“We’re giving them instructions, because they don’t know what to do,” the same employee said. “They want us to pretend that these people are giving instructions.”

Gillespie said the contract allows non-union supervisors to perform the duties of union employees temporarily if union employees are absent, as he said they often are, or to fix temporary operational problems.

J Street employees said their union has been unresponsive to grievances they filed against Aramark in the past.

One employee said the union has not followed up on a grievance filed after the worker was kept from taking a break after four hours of work.

“The company refuses to meet, and the union has actually not done anything and not tried to get any ruling from an arbitrator,” another employee said.

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