Tentative deal reached for Donald Gordon Centre employees

While still subject to a members’ vote, it appears Queen’s University hospitality and food services staff at Donald Gordon Centre will avoid a strike.

Negotiators for CUPE 229, which represents workers at the centre, and the contracting company Aramark reached the deal following a full day of bargaining on August 17 with a conciliator.

The two sides had been negotiating for months with a deal being struck before the start of the fall semester seeming unlikely as recently as two weeks ago.

Workers became frustrated by what they said were unfair pay rates between staff working at the Donald Gordon Centre and all other locations at Queen’s University, sometimes a gap as large as $6 between the same position at two different locations.

At the beginning of August, CUPE 229 President Sherri Ferris said employees found Aramark’s justification for the pay gap absurd, and asserted that the same jobs should pay at or near the same amount regardless of location.

Ferris said a company as big as Aramark can easily afford to pay all their employees fairly.

“Simple fairness says that Aramark should have the same pay rates and scales for all its food service workers at Queen’s, regardless of where they work,” said Sherri Ferris, president of CUPE 229.

“Aramark is a multibillion-dollar company. Its contracts with Queen’s are worth millions. Aramark can afford fairness.”

In Thursday’s news release, Ferris said while details can’t be expanded upon that she and the rest of the bargaining team feel very comfortable recommending this deal to members.

“Under the agreed terms, we can’t make details of the agreement public until after our members have had the chance to review and vote on it, and that won’t happen until the end of the month,” Ferris said.

“However, I can say that this is a deal that the bargaining committee will be pleased to recommend for ratification by members.”

Donald Gordon Centre General Manager Jinty Cresswell added that Aramark is happy to have come to a resolution with employees.

“Under this agreement, Aramark’s food and hospitality employees at the Donald Gordon Centre will continue to deliver the same high-quality services to the centre’s guests and clients,” Cresswell said.

CUPE 229 will review the tentative agreement on August 30 and vote on whether to accept or reject the deal.