Aramark lays off workers, cuts venue hours

Food service provider Aramark shortened some dining venue hours and changed workers’ hours and positions this week, officials said. Students from the Progressive Student Union and other groups are rallying around the workers, with a demonstration planned for Friday.

Aramark District Manager Kim Davis said Aramark has laid off workers but declined to give a reason or how many workers. He said the job terminations did not violate the workers’ contracts.

As of Monday afternoon, Aramark reduced 12 worker positions from full-time to part-time, said John Boardman, executive secretary of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 25, the union that represents GW’s food service workers.

Boardman said the union must now decide how to alter workers’ hours to accommodate the change. He said hour cuts will be based on seniority, and that decisions should be made within the next ten days.

“Any time workers lose (hours) it’s negative … especially before the holidays,” Boardman said, adding that no significant operational changes have taken place in at least four years.

The Hall on Virginia Avenue Diner reduced its hours. Starting this semester, the diner was open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday, according to the Dining Services Web site. But the diner will now be open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, said Ryan Geist, director of the Student Association Dining Services Commision.

Davis said “something had to be done” to compensate for inadequate business in the diner. He said he didn’t want to “sacrifice product or quality of food” in the venue.

He said discussions are underway to evaluate other venues’ operation hours but declined to comment on which other venues would see hour reductions.

Aramark Marketing Program Manager Amelia Powell said Aramark officials are meeting Thursday morning and more information would be available after the meeting.

“We look at every venue and make decisions based on the trafficking to those venues,” Davis said. “From there we address the needs of the students and our business.”

Geist, director, said he was unhappy with the way Aramark executed HOVA Diner’s hour alterations, although he approved the changes beforehand.

“I was not aware that changes were going to take effect this quickly,” Geist said. “I don’t feel that the students were properly notified. I was aware that they were going to take effect this week, but not aware that this would happen without prior notification.”

Geist said all the documents regarding the current changes are labeled “Classified” and he could not comment further on the future of food venues or Aramark workers.

“In the future, the DSC will make an extra effort to fund publicity and talk to students about upcoming changes, ” Geist said.

Students living in HOVA said they were upset about a lack of notification of the diner’s hours change.

“Most students did not even know the diner was closed after eight p.m. now,” freshman Marshall Nyman said.

About 10 students representing groups including the Progressive Student Union, Students for Peace and Justice and Students for Dean and Aramark workers met Wednesday night in the Marvin Center to discuss issues plaguing workers.

“I’ve been working here at GW for 20 years,” said Muriel Patterson, production supervisor for Bene Pizza.

“If we save just three people’s jobs, that’s three more people that get to have Thanksgiving,” she added.

Student leaders said they are holding a rally to support Aramark workers at 1:30 p.m. Friday outside the Marvin Center.

Julie Gordon contributed to this report.

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