By Ethan Miller
You may have noticed a change in Terrace Dining Room. Kevin Nelson, who often worked at the ice cream counter, has not been in lately.
Last week, Bon Appétit management fired Kevin for allegedly stealing food. However, I discovered the true story according to Kevin’s legal representatives. Kevin had been working all day and didn’t take his lunch break. He asked his supervisor if he could take some food at the end of his shift and his supervisor said OK. But when leaving work, management approached Kevin and searched his bag, finding the food that he had and claimed he had “stolen.”
Kevin is one of the most charismatic people many of us have met. His positive energy often is a bright spot on many people’s days. Kevin is a fighter. He has been speaking up against management for the many abuses they have been committing in TDR, Eagle’s Nest, Tenley Café, Tavern and MGC marketplace and shared these grievances with students.
Over the past year, workers have been organizing in their union to fight against the cutbacks they have experienced at work. Many full-time workers have seen their hours cut from what is supposed to be a 40-hour-a-week position to 30 to 35 hours. At the same time, they are expected to work harder as Bon Appétit makes “improvements” without consulting those who are most affected.
After speaking with workers, the Student-Worker Alliance has found that these changes have caused stress at home by making it harder for many to be able to provide for their families and caused stress at work by increasing physical demands on individual workers. Worse yet, when workers ask if they can take food home to their families that would otherwise be thrown out, they are told they cannot.
There have been many improvements in TDR that have vastly increased the quality of the food. This has included more food prepared from scratch and food served in smaller portions. But there is one factor that has been missing from the equation: the workers.
Bon Appétit has not been treating workers with respect nor giving them the hours and training they need in order to produce quality food. As students, we have an obligation to stand with the Bon Appétit workers as they struggle for respect on the job. Students need to fight back alongside with Kevin and the workers who serve us every day. Until Kevin is hired again and steps are taken to alleviate the situation facing all Bon Appétit workers, we will not be silent.
Ethan Miller is a senior in CAS and a member of the Student-Worker Alliance.