2 comments

  • Excellent article. Here’s some fuel for the fire. I ran into Aramark years ago as part of a student organization called the RHA at University of Hartford. The food there was obscenely expensive, even though it wasn’t very good. Their justification for the price was that it was serve more ala’ Cate and not buffet style. It was total bs.
    How did I know? I had recently played a concert at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania who was also served by Aramark. I ate in their cafeteria. I noticed that the food was exactly the same there but cost 3 times less at Mansfield than UHa. When I brought this point up the student board, appointed to renegotiate the contact with the food service giant, they simply regurgitated facts fed to them by Aramark and closed by saying they would NOT hear any further commentary on the matter. It was obvious that they had been coached by a corporate interest. Come to think of it, it’s very much like how our council and mayor bend over backwards to protect the big telecoms and other corporate interests.
    Why did they try to shut-down further commentary on behalf of Aramark? Because the students were all connected to higher ups at the university and the university received a big share of the profits from allowing Aramark to operate there. I’m sure a similar situation exists at Western.
    Before this, schools used to run their own cafeteria’s. This is still the best option for many reasons. The primary one being that it puts you in control of what food you will and won’t accept. If a provider is bad you can just switch providers. You don’t have to ask your corporate overlords for permission to do so, and it costs the same or less to do.
    You will hear the argument that this is too expensive. It will be a bunch of lies pushed by executives on the take and Aramark. Just do the real numbers and you can back yourself up. There are many examples like Haliburton running food services for our military in Iraq. The army used to have an army of its own cooks. Once Haliburton came in plates of simple food went from about $3 a plate to $20 a plate for the same food. If anything, the quality went down when Haliburton got involved. Who got rich? Dick Cheney, etc.
    It is very similar, from a corporate standpoint anyway, to how our local government protects big anti-net neutral, anti-first Amendment telecoms to the extent of even lying to the citizens about our existing network. Just like Aramark’s values obviously don’t ally with those of Western on the surface, the values of the big telecoms violate every ethical standard our City/County say they hold dear. Just like Western should refuse to do business with Aramark solely on the basis of its awful values, our governments should do the same with many of the companies they deal with. So why do they coddle them and lie on their behalf instead?
    In the background you have council members and staff that protect the big telecoms because a small amount of revenue flows in from these easily replaceable companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T that do an awful job. They do the same thing that the students did for Aramark above but for big telecom.
    The best solution, which is NOT to expensive, is a local solution that gives us better services and local self-reliance. That is true here too. The best solution is for you to go back to having Western run its own food services. I am sure, your corporately owned administrators will argue that it’s too expensive, but a company like Aramark will never do a good job and will never change.
    Start with finding out who is on the take at Western, and put pressure there. I leave you with the 3 arguments I expect you to encounter as you fight Aramark. Remember, big companies are ready for some pushback from time to time. Deep down, they know how awful they are and are prepared for it. Just look at Tyson, and they’re still in business.
    1. Western will try to calm you down by pulling you into a room either with Aramark reps. or with Western officials briefed by those reps. They will assure you that things will change. They won’t, but their hope here is to break up your support and coalition but stopping your momentum.
    2. If that doesn’t work, they will use corrupt news sources they own, like the Herald, to print propaganda articles about how wonderful the food services at Western, the prisons, etc. are thanks to Aramark They will say they “appreciate your commitment to food quality and will look into it.” At this point they will stop talking to you and nothing will happen. They will try to wait you out. They may also commission a study, using too small of a sample size, etc. which will turn out the result saying that on the whole Aramark’s services were actually above the standard in most cases. The City of Bellingham did this for Cocmast 6 years ago. Did you know that you are all basically in love with Comcast, and can’t wait to get services from them? Well, even though we all know that’s not true, that’s the way the study reads. Western will probably do something similar to protect Aramark. A Lies, damned lies, and statistics study that will paint Aramark in the best light possible.
    3. If they can’t wait you out after all of this they will discredit you.
    I can go on, but I’ve outlined the first 2 years of your fight for you. Unless you replace some leadership over at Western this is what to expect. Most of the baby boomers just can’t think of solutions that don’t involve giant corporations, and most of them are in control of our Universities now.

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