Aramark, Sodexo under fire on campuses from Florida to Colorado!…

Jose Soto, a University of Florida gradate student, argues in favor of the Student Senate resolution calling on Aramark to work with the CIW to improve wages and working conditions in Florida’s tomato fields. The resolution passed 57-19.

Student government resolutions call on foodservice providers to work with CIW for Fair Food!…

The past month has been a whirlwind not only for workers in Immokalee but also for their student allies across the country who are spearheading the “Dine with Dignity” campaign. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Last night, after a weeks-long campus debate, the Student Senate at Washington University in St. Louis passed a resolution calling on Aramark to follow the lead of the students’ other foodservice provider, Bon Appetit, and enter into an agreement with the CIW.
  • On November 20, the Student Advisory Committee to the Auraria Board — which represents students from UC Denver, Metro State, and the Community College of Denver — passed a resolution calling on Sodexo to enter into an agreement with the CIW.
  • And on October 27, the University of Florida Student Senate passed a resolution calling on Aramark to enter into an agreement with the CIW. Here’s an excerpt from the Gainesville Sun article, “Student Senate passes resolution supporting farm workers” (10/27/09):

“We have an option tonight to boldly say to Aramark that UF wants to be the starting point to this change and fight for justice,” said Dave Schneider, former senator and primary author of the resolution.

About 20 students and alumni came to show their support for the resolution, asking the Senate to vote yes.

During a five-minute presentation, resolution supporter Jose Soto noted that a penny is worth almost nothing monetarily while a pound of tomatoes is about 28 slices.

“You represent me,” Soto said about the wage increase. “Don’t denigrate my dignity by valuing it lower than 1/28 of a slice of tomato.”

The successful Student Senate resolution at the University of Florida marks a turning point in the students’ campaign against Aramark. Here’s further reading on the developments in Gainesville:

Members of Fair Food Austin recreate the powerful skit the CIW performed on the steps of the Florida capitol earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Washington University in St. Louis has been host to a debate in recent weeks over the decision of Bon Appetit to serve only tomatoes from Alderman Farms, one of the three Florida farms implementing the CIW’s Fair Food agreements. Read the back-and-forth here:

The debate culiminated on December 2 in the passage of a Student Senate resolution calling on Aramark to follow the lead of Bon Appetit in working with the CIW to address human rights violations in Florida’s tomato fields. Click here to read the resolution in its entirety.

Aramark has also been the focus of scrutiny in the Lone Star State. Members of Fair Food Austin recently spent an afternoon at the University of Texas at Austin in order to draw attention to human rights abuses in the foodservice provider’s supply chain. Don’t miss a photo report from their street theater performance, “Our Sweat is Not Free!”

And just this morning, a student at the University of Houston published a hard-hitting op-ed. Here’s an excpert from “Next time, think before you eat” (The Daily Cougar, 12/3/09):

These workers, who have been treated as machinery, now stand up for themselves and demand human rights. They have made all of these gains, but there is still much more to be done. We can do a lot too.

We can look at our food service provider, Aramark, and ask why they haven’t made an agreement with the CIW yet. We can tell them that issues such as slavery and human rights abuses are important to us.

We can tell them that UH wants dignity for the workers who support us, and if Aramark wants our business, they need to respect that.

As students and consumers, we have the power to speak up and do something about this.

In addition to the Auraria campus in Denver, Sodexo is facing growing concern from students at Atlanta’s Emory University. Check out the recent Thanksgiving-themed op-ed: “Thanks for the Hands that Harvest Our Food” (Emory Wheel, 11/23/09).

And last but not least, students at the University of Notre Dame — some of the CIW’s earliest allies in the Taco Bell Boycott — are keeping the Immokalee workers’ fight for justice alive in South Bend. Read about it here: “Club fights to improve working conditions” (The Observer, 11/17/09).

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