Students and staff were shocked to learn about the layoffs of cafe workers by Sodexo on UNB Fredericton Campus, with petitions and letters of support emerging that call for the University to ammend this action.
Matthew Sears, Associate Professor of Classics, shared his dismay for this dismissal in a letter which is currently circulating. The letter was adressed to Associate Vice-Provost Sheldon MacLeod and the staff of UNB Student Services. It reads:
“We, members of the UNB community, were disturbed to learn that current Sodexo employees have been kept in the dark regarding the contract negotiations with a new food service provider, and that no provisions have been made to protect their jobs, wages, and working conditions once the new provider is in place.
We must, therefore, ask you, even at this late stage, to intervene in this process in the interests of our friends and colleagues who work in food service at UNB. We have spoken to several of these employees, some of whom have worked at UNB for more than four decades, and they have been given no information, offered no consideration or opportunity to participate meaningfully in this process, and have now been given notices of termination. They are understandably worried for their futures and suffering tremendous stress. We are deeply disturbed at the treatment these workers have received, which certainly does not reflect a university that is genuinely ‘people-centric and values informed.’
No contract, no matter how financially attractive to UNB, and no change in food service warrants treating members of our community in such a way.”
Alongside this letter, a petition has been circulated which was started by third-year History student, Sofie Erickson, advocating for the halt of “the unjust layoffs of our beloved campus staff.”
As of March 3, this petition has garnered 223 signatures, with many signatories leaving words of support for the workers or outrage over the layoffs.
“We need to ensure these workers are treated fairly and can continue to play a key role on our campus!” said Lisa Todd, Chair of the Department of History and the Department of Classics and Ancient History.
One signatory, Graham Nickerson, said that they layoffs seemed “arbitrary and cruel” while another, Gary Waite, said that the release of these workers will “tarnish UNB’s reputation as a positive workspace.”
The Univeristy has yet to make a public statement regarding these layoffs.
The Brunswickan is in conversation with the UNB Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing to arrange an interview with Bill Best, Vice President Administration and Finance.
Sodexo has not responded to a request for interview.