Mt. A Dining Services staff face job security concerns

Many students are familiar with Mt. A Dining Services, whether they have a meal plan or not. However, you may not know that despite being called “Mt. A Dining Services,” dining services staff are not Mt. A employees, nor do they receive the same benefits. Rather, dining services are procured by an outside company. Most recently, Aramark Canada Ltd. was contracted to provide food services for the University, and thus employed dining services staff. 


Mt. A issued a notice of planned procurement to advise potential bidders of “plans to conduct a procurement tender for [the University’s] Dining Services.” This notice detailed an expected Request For Proposals (RFP) launch on September 25, 2023. All dining services staff have since been terminated by Aramark Canada Ltd. with approximately nine weeks notice. During this time, the status of their jobs remains uncertain. Local 1440, a union representing Mt. A Dining Services staff, has yet to receive confirmation on who their new employer will be. 


“Local 1440 has been a union since 1971, […] over the last 50 some years we [have gone] through many different companies,” says Jason Tower, president of Local 1440. With each company turnover, there is no guarantee that dining staff will keep their jobs once the succeeding company is brought on. 


“We have people who have been here [for] 51 years, and less. I have been here 45 years,” says Karen Etter, Mt.A dining services staff. Yet, once the new company is brought on, all staff will become probationary employees, regardless of seniority. “I reached out to Mt. A a couple of times, first in October and [again] when I found out we had lost our jobs. […] Their response was that they had no control of who the new company takes or how they do things. […] That is very concerning for a lot of us,” says Tower.


“As of April 30 we are all terminated, none of us have a job. […] I do not know who my new employer is. Will [they] accept the union? […] My members are asking me for answers and I have no idea what to tell them,” says Tower. 


Along with the termination of their contract with Aramark, Local 1440 has been informed that they will not receive severance pay. Further, the money they pay towards their benefits throughout the year will not be refunded. This potentially leaves dining services staff without benefits in the summer months. “I have two boys, we all have families, we have a bunch of young people now employed. We have a bunch of people in their seventies working because we did not have a pension. These are our livelihoods,” says Tower. 

Tedi Buffett – Argosy Chief Editor

As a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Board, Tower had a meeting with Premier Blaine Higgs, in which he “strongly urged for [Local 1440] to get successor rights.” Successor rights would preserve the rights of the employees during company turnover and alleviate stress for many. The current system does not work for the union. “The unclarity is just too hard for us,” says Tower. “It is nerve wracking,” Etter adds. 


Regardless of the RFP outcome, the goal of Local 1440 remains. “Our goal is to make sure students have a good experience,” says Tower.  “It is not just a job, it is a family for us,” he continues. 


The Argosy reached out to the University regarding the status of the RFP and the job security of current Mt. A Dining staff. We received a statement from Vice President Financial, Robert Inglis, originally sent to students and staff on January 30, 2024:


“Mount Allison is subject to procurement legislation which requires that from time to time it participate in an open and competitive procurement process for goods and services. As part of those requirements and norms within the University sector, the University continuously reviews supplier contracts. We are currently going through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for dining services.


As a publicly funded institution, the University must adhere to procurement legislation and follow appropriate practices. At this time, we are unable to comment further until the procurement process is complete.”

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