Student workers address Chartwells working concerns
Taylor Nicole Richards – News Writer
Three student workers for Chartwells recently sat down with Southern News to discuss their grievances with their current working conditions. Chartwells is currently in negotiation to update their contract and are considering replacing 20 percent of the work force with student workers. Alexys Washington, senior psychology major and a student worker of Chartwells for two years, is concerned that the company will treat new student employees with the same disrespect she said she receives.
“Student workers don’t get trained,” said Washington. “We just get thrown onto our shifts and have to ask everyone around us how everything is running.”
There is a difference between student and union workers for Chartwells: student workers get paid less, work part-time, and can only perform certain responsibilities. Randall Sapp, senior liberal studies major and student worker for Chartwells for two years, said that when they are short-staffed, often students are asked to perform tasks they are not supposed to be doing by union workers or by their managers.
“We can’t do anything with knives, so no student workers are supposed to be at 2mato, but only student workers ever work there at night. We’re not supposed to be working at Mondo’s either and not allowed to cut bread,” said Sapp. “On the schedule for Dunkin, students are allowed to make coffee and make sure the donut case is full. Anything else we’re not supposed to do. But we do it all anyway—it’s an expectation when we’re understaffed.”
Fernando Gonzalez, senior liberal studies major, is a union worker who is also a student. He has been with the company for four years and said that a lot of union workers will lose their jobs if Chartwells replaces them with students.
“They’re trying to fill extra shifts with the students and cutting out hours for the union workers so they can pay less money. Their intention is to be able to reduce the payroll,” said Gonzalez. “The contract does not provide insurance for student workers. If Randall gets cut at Dunkin Donuts, he does not have the same protection that union workers have. The contract does not say anything about student protections but we still have to do the same work.”
Food service employees also get moved from station to station frequently at the Student Center or to Starbucks when they sign to work in one place their entire shift. This happens when they are short-staffed or slow. The contract says that if there is not enough workers, Chartwells is supposed to call someone else in. According to Gonzalez, they do not want to give anyone potential overtime, so they move people around when that is supposed to be the last option.
Sapp said that sometimes if an employee is on their break at night and it is short-staffed, a station will sit empty while students are waiting to order. Sometimes Sapp will run over to a station he was not assigned to if nobody is getting served. He said the last time he did that he got written up.
Student workers usually work for two hours at a time so Chartwells will not need to find a replacement if someone calls out. If it is a shift of four hours, the contract requires them to call someone in.
“We have so few people working that my entire shift will be me covering other people’s breaks,” said Washington. The page of the contract that covers student workers says they are allotted a 10 minute break. “I won’t be able to take the break I’m supposed to because I’m covering everyone else’s. Sometimes I get asked to stay an extra 15 minutes to cover someone’s break when I never even got to take my own.”
The goal for Washington is to keep students aware of how things are run behind the scenes. She said it is important for students to know what they are getting themselves into if they apply to work at Chartwells.
Photo Credit: Staff Photos