Students and food service workers are disappointed in UF’s President Kent Fuchs.
Nearly 50 people rallied in front of Fuchs’ office Friday to protest working conditions and wage problems from Aramark, the food service company that provides services on campus.
Speakers included Aramark employees, members of Graduate Students United, the Young Democratic Socialists of America, United Faculty of Florida, the Alachua County Labor Coalition and the North Central Florida’s American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, said Ashley Nguyen, a 22-year-old UF international studies and political science senior.
“Aramark workers at UF should know that there will be support for them, and that there are people that are willing to work with them to fight for their own rights,” Nguyen, the chair of Young Democratic Socialists of America at UF, said.
The employees are experiencing hostile work environments with managers cursing out their workers, said Jeremiah Tattersall, a UF alumnus and a field representative for North Central Florida’s American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization.
He said some workers have complained that their employers aren’t paying them for their overtime hours, despite constantly reminding them.
Nguyen said she emailed Fuchs to discuss their mission for a living wage of $15 an hour for food service workers and the right for all UF employees and contracted workers to unionize, but he declined without specifying a reason. She also emailed him to speak at the rally.
“It would not be appropriate for me to meet with the Alachua County Labor Coalition,” Fuchs wrote in the email.
The U.S. Department of Labor requires workers who work overtime, more than 40 hours a week, must be paid their time and a half. Tattersall, 33, said he files these complaints from Aramark employees to the department and is disappointed in Fuchs.
“I just want UF to do better and treat their workers better,” he said. “There’s no excuse for President Fuchs not to meet with students who are concerned about working conditions of his food service workers.”
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the Young Democratic Socialists of America. The Alligator originally reported differently.
Contact Stephany Matat at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @StephanyMatat.