Not a Campaign, Just the Facts: Justice for Aramark Workers

Over the last year here at AU, Aramark Workers have been forced to work 5,000 more square feet per day than in the past, bringing their daily quote to 27,000 sq ft per day. If workers cannot complete their work three times, they are fired.

Last thursday, around 30 students delivered a letter to President Kerwin’s office to outline the injustices being perpetrated on campus and to propose a solution. Here is the letter that we delivered:

Dear President Kerwin,

We, the students of American University, believe that all of the people who live, study, and work on our campus are all equal members of the same American University community. American University’s cleaning service workers play an especially important role in maintaining our campus and AU could not function without them. Over the years, many students have developed deeply personal relationships with the cleaning staff, and we have a special respect for the work that they do. However, due to their ambiguous status as workers on our campus but employees of a private company, the workers’ needs often go unheard. It is out of our sense of community and the deep respect that we have for the workers that we demand that American University take action now to alleviate the deteriorating working conditions on our campus.

Last Spring, American University renegotiated its contract with Aramark.  In the new contract, Aramark agreed to take over the cleaning of several off campus buildings without hiring any new employees. In order to accomplish this, Aramark increased the daily workload for each worker by 5,000 square feet, to 27,000 square feet per day. While we have been told by Aramark management and university administrators that new technology has allowed this increase to happen with minimal human impact, it is clear to us that in reality, workers are bearing the cost of the new contract.

Over the past year, workers have experienced tremendous pressure from Aramark supervisors and university administrators to work faster. Many workers have trouble meeting their workload, but by regularly failing to complete their unrealistic daily quotas, they face termination. No less than six workers have been fired this year alone, and yet no new workers have been hired to fill their spots. The nightshift has been especially affected. Nightshift workers report that they are chronically understaffed and are often required to clean more that the required 27,000 square feet per day. These conditions have caused serious health problems for many workers, on all three shifts.

As the university administration renegotiates its contract with Aramark, we ask that two key provisions by included in the contract in order to solve these chronic problems. The first is to set a universal standard for the amount of space an Aramark worker is required to clean per day. We ask that this standard be set at last year’s level, 22,000 square feet. Furthermore, a provision should be included that requires Aramark to hire new employees after a worker is fired or quits.

We hope that by working together, we can solve the issues faced by some of the most valuable workers on our campus.

Respectfully, we request a response by April 5th.

Sincerely,

The AU Student Worker Alliance

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