Jay Park ’22
During the spring semester of the 2018-2019 academic year, Trinity College’s dining services provider—Chartwells—announced their intention to outsource the production of their “Grab and Go” options (otherwise known as “Outtakes”) to New Jersey and New York. Outtakes is the brand of pre-made food products, such as sandwiches and salads, sold in the Bistro, the Cave, and Mather Hall. Unite Here Local 217, the union which counts many employees of Trinity Dining Services as members, has objected to this decision, claiming that these products have been produced in-house for over 15 years without issue.
The union indicated that Chartwells made this outsourcing decision because the New Jersey and New York facilities can better assure that their products are allergen-free. However, according to Lead Union Steward for Local 217 at Trinity College Nene Villegas, the in-house production can, and has been providing these food items with the same level of diligence concerning allergens.
Villegas spoke with the Tripod and contends that the real reason behind Chartwells’ outsourcing is in the interest of “saving money,” which comes at the expense of Local 217 Union members.
Villegas has stated that the union has negotiated “in good faith” with Chartwells to keep the production in-house because “the quality of the product was better in-house.” Villegas continued, noting that the union is “trying to keep production here because it is faster and not made in another state” and because “the students deserve freshly prepared food.”
Despite continued union objection to their proposal, Chartwells outsourced production in late September of this semester.
An immediate repercussion of the outsourcing of production has been the loss of four dining service employees at Trinity College, added Villegas. While the employees did not lose their jobs, they were “bumped” to other positions and have assumed work that diverges from their previous assignments. Villegas maintains that these employees have “lost what they had done for a long time.”
Local 217 has most recently escalated this issue to arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution, with the legally binding decision being made by a third-party “arbitrator.” The union is seeking the return of preparation and production of the grab-and-go options to Trinity’s in-house facilities. Along with the arbitration, the Chartwells labor relations management has been in contact with the union’s labor relations master to facilitate this arbitration. The union expects to receive this decision between November and December, 2019.
The Tripod also reached out to Director of Dining Serices at Trinity College Martin Turcotte, as well as Resident District Manager of Chartwells Paul Vermeal, but did not get a comment prior to publication.