PSU food service contract changes hands, union contract remains

About 90 food service workers at Portland State University (PSU) continue to have a union — and a union contract — even though the company that employed them lost its contract with the university.

As of June 30, Aramark was out, and Chartwells was in — providing food services at Smith Memorial Student Union and university dorms, as well as conferences and events at Viking Pavilion and other campus locations, including the University Place Hotel and Conference Center.

But with help from university officials, Oregon AFSCME representative Ross Kiely was able to persuade Chartwells to recognize the existing union and agree to the terms of its contract with Aramark, which runs through the end of 2018. The contract provides for medical, dental, and vision coverage, paid vacation, free meals, and wages that range from $0.25 to $2.25 above minimum wage, plus basic union rights like progressive discipline, a grievance process, and seniority.

Chartwells also hired all the Aramark employees who wanted to continue on.

Baristas, cooks, cashiers, and other PSU food service workers have been represented by Oregon AFSCME since 2001, first at Aramark, then for two years under Sodexho, and at Aramark again for the last 10 years.

They make up AFSCME Local 1336. Local 1336 president Nicole Stroup is also a member of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555, through her work at St. Johns Fred Meyer.

Chartwells’ contract with PSU will run a minimum of five years. The company is bringing popular new vendors to campus, including Salt and Straw, Cha Cha Cha, Steven Smith Tea Maker, Stumptown Coffee and Roman Candle Baking. Thanks to the AFSCME contract, they’ll be staffed by union members.

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