February 11, 2008

SAU Picks New Battle

After expressing disappointment with the Sophomore Gift the other week, the Student Activist Union now has a new enemy - Aramark. The group met this afternoon with organizer Paul Dana to plan a campaign against our campus' food provider.

Paul Dana is an organizer from the group Unite Here. In a letter to SAU last week, Dana writes:
"We are constructing sophisticated, multi-national, campaigns that give workers real power when dealing with the huge multi-national corporations that dominate the industry." He continues, "It's time to tell ARAMARK and any other company that makes their money by exploiting their workers that the buck stops here."

No word yet on how the SAU plans on getting involved.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

At least now they're complaining about something that's actually relatively significant rather than the grave injustice of v-card swipers. This is what student activists should really be paying attention to.

Anonymous said...

fuckin' dc

Anonymous said...

this isn't a new battle by any stretch of the imagination. many people on campus (including) have been complaining and actively working against aramark for at least the last 3-4 years.

Anonymous said...

just out of curiosity, what exactly is wrong with aramark? i don't mean to be flippant, i honestly don't know.

i mean, besides the fact that their food sucks...

Anonymous said...

the main issue is with the SAU... do these people take classes/have lives? they have a lot of time to piss everyone off.

Anonymous said...

SAU picks fights with people who don't deserve to be picked on. I wish that the org would focus on issues off campus - Vassar doesn't have that many groups that make noise about injustices in the Poughkeepsie community or in New York City, compared to what my friends at other schools tell me.

Anonymous said...

IDEA: let's spend all of our schools money turning into a welfare agency.

BETTER IDEA: let's spend or schools money increasing scholarships, funding research, and improving facilities.

Anonymous said...

SAU, as long as the school outsources its dining service, a big corporation is going to run it. If Vassar, who has no recent experience running a dining service on its own, decides to run it, it will be less efficient, even more expensive, and possibly have lower- quality food (and I don't think the DC is good). There may be better solutions than Aramark, but one of the trade-offs in a capitalist society is that it will probably be another big Republican corporation. I wish SAU, which I have never heard of outside of the outlandish statements they make, would try to tackle the real issues of the day, such as the bullshit war in Iraq, the 9 trillion dollar national debt and failing economy, the crack-like addiction to oil, and global warming. If they want to stay at the local level, something desperately needs to be done about town-college relations. They're an embarrassment to Vassar and probably worsened by this type of pseudo-elitism.

Anonymous said...

12:12 is 100% correct. SAU needs to be active about things that matter. Not bitch about vending machines that everyone else wants, and advocate that Vassar spend more on its labor when that "extra spending" means extra cost to us.

Anonymous said...

the culinary institute should do our food

Anonymous said...

find out how Bowdoin runs their dining services (which is in-house, and uses local produce, and is the most delicious thing ever)...and then copy that

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Aramark and whatnot, the Vassar LJ comm is discussing documenting how the Retreat doesn't clean their grills and bits of meat keep showing up where they shouldn't be (i.e., bacon in banana pancakes).

As a vegetarian, I personally find this, along with the fact that dining staff continually neglect to use vegetarian-specific knives/cutting boards/etc (they're green and everything!) pretty gross.

Anonymous said...

i don't really know much about this situation, but it doesn't seem to me that aramark treats its employees that badly. I wish I knew where to find the opinions of people who are against Aramark.

Plus, campus dining employs a lot of local people. if a new food contract is signed, many of those people could lose their jobs. who knows though, it's also possible that the new contractor would retain them. I think Vassar's role in all of this, if the administration really wishes to improve our relationship with the community, is to work toward the rights of the local workers, which might mean choosing a contractor that would keep them employed.

Anonymous said...

I have worked with the SAU and they focus on many issues off and on campus. I am sick of how people talk about their community service and all the great things they have done in other countries but when the time comes to face issues on campus, people want to look the other way. If we can't create social justice on campus then we can't create it off campus.

Aramark treats its workers like crap. They refuse to hire more workers and are constantly forcing employees to do overtime with little breaks. They realize that their workers need money so they harass them to work on their days off. Also, they do not have negations for pay increase and other key issues until after graduation because they realize that they need the workers, especially for graduation. This makes it is easier to ignore their demands once the school year ends because they can always hire more workers. I worked at the reunion last year as a caterer and Aramark basically had us riding in the back of pickup trucks.

If I knew that the workers were being treated decently then I wouldn't mind paying more money at Vassar. And yes, besides scholarships, I pay for my own college tuition.

P.S.
The welfare comment was completely out of line and inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

"Aramark treats its workers like crap. They refuse to hire more workers and are constantly forcing employees to do overtime with little breaks. They realize that their workers need money so they harass them to work on their days off."

Okay, I get it, we should care about social justice. But what about capitalism? Do we not believe in that anymore? If we were to pay these people more (or hire more people, or whatever), that translates into tuition hikes. I don't want that.

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Aramark, but if we change, especially to another corporate contractor, I have a good feeling that the entire campus will be singing "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Anonymous said...

Aramark doesn't negotiate the salaries of Campus Dining workers, the college does.

Anonymous said...

9:26, low-wage unskilled labor... rings a bell?

Anonymous said...

funny to see all those who suggest what they think SAU should do but sit on their asses and complain and do nothing themselves. SAU can choose to pursue whatever issues they like and if you want to focus on the war or global warming how about you do something rather than just pass it on to someone else.

Anonymous said...

Vassar is partly a business - it must use the cheapest inputs possible to get the most output possible. We want a new science center? Hire a moderately priced food service provider. Want that provider to give us good food at a reasonable cost? Let them contract their own workers.

Capitalism is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

THE COLLEGE IS A CAPITALIST MACHINE

Sonia said...

My issue with Aramark is the food violations. They're gross.

More here: http://community.livejournal.com/vassar/743230.html

MADS, would you mind cross-posting this?

Anonymous said...

And thank goodness that is IS a capitalist machine. Labor costs money. It's easy to find the sad stories about individual workers who cant pay the rent. But think about what that means for us as the consumers of this room/board/education if we have to employ 40+ extra people (the number that run acdc at any given time) AND pay higher wages. That's bad news for us.

Anonymous said...

capitalism is not a good thing

Anonymous said...

i love capitalism

Anonymous said...

Capitalism is far from perfect, but it's the world we live in, and it's better to live in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Free markets are GOOD. As long as the government solves major human rights violations in the workplace (i.e. not allow companies to pay workers $2/day), capitalism allocates resources efficiently. Vassar shouldn't spend a penny more on labor than we absolutely have to.

Anonymous said...

fuckin' student activist union.

Anonymous said...

i hope all of you are freshmen because some of these comments are appalling and myopic.

"Capitalism is far from perfect, but it's the world we live in, and it's better to live in the real world."

why should we live in a "real" neoliberal world that was created and maintained by selfish people who dictate the trajectory of the world to suit their needs? have you been brainwashed into believing it's the way for things to be?

it's really hypocritical how "vassar" prides "itself" on instilling students with critical thinking skills... only to have the administration make decisions that contradict the things we've learned to stand for.

and yes, labor costs money, but do you REALLY think that employing 40+ more people will result in tuition/room/board hikes? it's so much more complex than that, and the college spends/wastes so much money in so many different ways, depending on how you want to look at it.

and free markets are not good because not everyone is positioned to participate in them equally. and free markets SURVIVE because of this inequality. you wouldn't be saying that if the US relied on exporting cash crops or cheap labor to the world.

Anonymous said...

...and I hope all of you juniors and seniors don't expect all Vassar students to be communists in support of an American Bolshevik Revolution to redistribute the wealth...

OK, that's a little facetious, but it's not about whether we "should" live in a capitalist world because outside the bubble, everybody acknowledges that we DO.

Plus, what's the point of hiring 40+ more DC workers?

Anonymous said...

10:34 the free market survives because of inequality?

the free market survives because of innovation and hard work. inequality is a consequence, but it's relativistic. you think life is bad for the poor of america? why don't you take a trip outside of the developed world. i'd rather have relative inequality in a rich state than equality in a poor state. and the rich states got rich through the free market...

And where do you think the money will come from to hire 40 more workers?

40 workers x 8 hours a day x $7.15 x about 240 days = $549120.00

You don't think that will increase tuition? Well IT WILL!

Anonymous said...

12:24 = 100% correct. paying more for labor we can get for less is called stupid. businesses that aim for social justice or whatever have lower profit margins, which for us translates into higher tuition. that doesnt mean we make people in the dc work 24 hours a day for five dollars. but it does mean that we should pursue the cheapest possible labor contracts, so long as they don't break any laws or give us bad publicity.

Anonymous said...

40 workers x 8 hours a day x $7.15 x about 240 days = $549120.00

You don't think that will increase tuition? Well IT WILL!

-----

a) 40 workers is a LOT. i think the person who mentioned it was just throwing a number out there. but what i'm saying is that you don't have to be so alarmist about the increase in tuition because
b) there are a couple of possibilities to address this
i. cut the money from somewhere else in the budget.
ii. increase the draw on the endowment.
iii. raise tuition or fees


12:24 AM - what classes do you TAKE? are you parroting what you read in an ECON 100 textbook? the rich states got rich through the free market because the rich states CREATED the free market when the conditions were optimal for them to benefit from such a system AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHER PEOPLE! see: NAFTA. see: COLONIALISM.

Anonymous said...

you stupid ass kids. tuition increases every year whether or not the school hires more workers. so for all of you who think they shouldn't you're gonna pay up anyway. dumbasses

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you where Vassar could get $549120.00 to hire more workers. They could stop buying so many damn flowers!

Anonymous said...

After 4 years, an unskilled kitchen employee at Vassar College makes $15.85 an hour. That's just shy of $33,000 a year. That's a fact.

Anonymous said...

$15.85 an hour is close to 3x some states' minimum wage. That is not bad for low-cost unskilled labor. While there are some good, hard-working Retreat and DC workers (TC), there are also more than a few who I've noticed do almost nothing. For what they do, that's a pretty damn good salary, considering that, in some parts of this country, people line up to get $8 an hour jobs at Wal-Mart. The yearly income for ONE "low-wage" unskilled worker who has worked for Aramark for 4 years is actually greater than the median HOUSEHOLD income for my town, which is touted as a rare small-town success story, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the intensity of this debate.

February 12, 2008 7:30 PM: Please leave your bubble before you reach congress.

February 12, 2008 1:02 AM: absolutely.

and to
February 13, 2008 1:02 AM, February 13, 2008 1:15 AM, and February 12, 2008 10:34 PM.... kudos.