Unite Here

Unite Here

March 19, 2008 16:59 ET

UNITE HERE: Hundreds Rally to End Violence Against Striking Aramark Workers in Markham

Community activists from across Ontario demand an end to violence against striking workers at Markham's Seneca College Campus which has led to Police charges

MARKHAM, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 19, 2008) - UNITE HERE, the union representing striking cafeteria and janitorial staff who work for Aramark at Seneca College's Markham campus, went out on strike on March 10th and since that time, striking workers and their supporters on the legal picket lines have been repeatedly hit by cars entering campus. The York Region Police were called to the picket line last week after the incidents, charges have been filed and police are still investigating.

"What we're fighting for is a fair first contract," said Andy Chiu who works for Aramark at Seneca's Markham College on the overnight cleaning shift and was struck by a vehicle last week. "We've worked hard serving food and cleaning this campus for the students. This company makes a lot of money and we're simply asking for a living wage and to be treated with dignity and respect. No one deserves to be hit by a car for that."

Aramark workers at Seneca's Markham campus have been asking the foodservice giant to address low wages and benefits and want equity with other Aramark workers at Seneca College. After more than 8 months of bargaining and on the eve of a strike deadline, Aramark responded with a paltry 1.25 % wage increase or less than 10 cents an hour for most staff.

"We are simply asking Aramark to bring wages and benefits in line with other Aramark workers at Seneca," said Alex Dagg, Director of UNITE HERE's Ontario Council. "Aramark has refused to address these concerns and these workers are now showing, by putting their very safety on the line at this picket line, that they will continue to stand up for fair working conditions."

Many students have also been actively supporting the striking workers, signing petitions, spending time on the picket line and bringing warm drinks. Andrew Robinson, a first year Business Administration and Marketing Student at Markham's Seneca College, says the campaign for fair working conditions for Aramark workers on campus should be important to all students.

"The striking Aramark workers are the ones who make sure we can study in a safe, clean environment and prepare and serve food on campus," said Robinson. "They deserve our respect and our support. Seneca College needs to ensure they are safe on this legal picket line and that their contractor offers a fair, first contract, that allows the workers to support their families in dignity. This is about equality and justice and there is nothing more important than that.

Contact Information

    Wynne Hartviksen
    (416) 510-0887, ext # 265 or via cell at (416) 473-2632
    (416) 510-0891 (FAX)
    Email: info@unitehere.ca
    Website: unitehere.ca