By Diana Lyuber
Newly renovated food venues have been popping up on campus throughout the summer, all of them bearing the Chartwells plaque. The change comes from last year’s decision to outsource University of Calgary Food Services to Chartwells, a large international corporation boasting over 250 locations nationwide, including vendors at McGill and Concordia Universities.
Although the renovations are nearly complete, not everyone is eager to line up at the new Tim Horton’s. The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Local 52 has voted to continue their boycott of all Chartwells owned food venues. The decision passed during AUPE’s monthly council meeting on Mon., Sept. 12.
“Council initiated the boycott against Chartwells back in May,” explained AUPE Local 52 Chair Shirley Maki.
Along with tasty Tim Bits and a revamped Dining Centre, the outsourcing to Chartwells resulted in the loss of 300 jobs for Food Services support staff, some of whom had been employed by the U of C for years. Many AUPE members were left unemployed and without benefits when their positions were suddenly terminated last spring.
“We’re sending a message,” said Maki. “There were 300 support staff that lost their positions. We don’t want this to happen again.”
AUPE has been fighting the university’s decision from the get-go, actively trying to stop the privatization of Food Services by staging a protest on the lawn of MacEwan Student Centre in March. Over the past months, they have also used billboards, button campaigns and posters at LRT stations to make their anti-Chartwells message heard.
“We can only hope that it’s having an impact,” said Maki.
With the start of a new semester and with many more students crowding the halls, AUPE has also formed a political action committee to publicize the boycott and spread awareness among students.
“Students contribute a lot to the university community,” said AUPE Vice-Chair Nancy Ritchie, adding students need to be aware of campus issues outside the scope of student life. “[We] will be looking at engaging the students, I’m sure something will be forthcoming soon.”
Backing AUPE in their boycott is The U of C Faculty Association.
“The Faculty Association continues to support the boycott on Chartwells,” said TUCFA President Anton Colijn. “Members of the executive do not go to Chartwells for food, and we encourage our members to do the same. We believe that the outsourcing of these jobs was wrong.”