More than 100 workers and support rallied yesterday at the county office building in Orlando, Florida to encourage the county to reject food service giant Aramark at the Orange County Convention Center. Aramark is one of three companies bidding for the food service contract at the OCCC. Carrying signs that read “Aramark: Recipe for Disaster,” participants highlighted the problems other communities have faced when contracting with the company.
“My coworkers and I take pride in our work. We believe in providing great customer service and great value for the community,” explained Freddie Burgos, who has worked at the Orange County Convention Center for 11 years. “But we fear if Aramark is given the food service contract at the convention center, all that will change and we will have the same problems that other convention centers have experienced with Aramark.”
Based in Philadelphia, Aramark earned $11.6 billion in revenue last year and paid its CEO $16.2 million in total compensation, yet its business practices are costing taxpayers millions. At the same time, Aramark workers often struggle to make ends meet at dead-end, low-wage jobs.
Recent examples abound of Aramark’s poor performance, particularly in stadium and convention center management. In Austin, Texas, ARAMARK employees became subjects of a grand jury investigation due to their part in an emerging scandal around misuse of convention center funds. Sports authorities and local officials have documented quality concerns around Aramark’s work at convention centers in Phoenix, Anaheim and Washington, DC, including long lines and excessive levels of “rodent activity.”
Aramark allegedly failed to follow alcohol regulations or properly monitor alcohol sales at venues in Virginia, Connecticut, and New York City. And 80 Aramark workers are entering their second month on strike at two landmark New York City office buildings in an effort to gain fair wages and benefits that has won the support of Reverend Jesse Jackson.
“Whether it’s school cafeterias, stadiums or prisons, Aramark’s business practices undermine quality and safety and shortchange taxpayers. And all too often Aramark workers get poverty wages and no health insurance. That’s not the kind of future we want at the Orange County Convention Center,” said Morty Miller, President of UNITE HERE Local 362.
Aramark is one of three contractors that county officials are considering for the 10-year, $300-million contract for convention center food service.