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Don't blame Aramark if staff can't do the job

Readers' Letters
by: JAIME VALDEZ Barbara Guardino, a server at the Oregon Convention Center, juggles a serving tray loaded with 10 dinner plates. Aramark, the convention center food service contractor, set a new rule requiring its longtime servers to be able to carry 10 dinners atop their shoulders, or accept reduced seniority, fewer hours or early retirement. Some of the servers, many of them older women, accuse Aramark of sex and age discrimination.

Unfortunately, nobody interviewed anybody who does their job of being a professional banquet server carrying 10 plates or more without problems (Workers hang in the balance, Oct. 27).

Nobody asked them what inspires them to be a banquet server at the convention center. They could not answer that they do this job to please the customers, that they enjoy providing perfect, professional service to the people who pay their salary.

Nobody asked them how much they suffer when they have to serve three to five tables, plus helping the struggling servers with their three to five tables. They could not say that when teaming up with a struggling worker, they do the bulk of the lifting and carrying.

Nobody asked (Sophie Welcher) how come she is still working while in other countries people at 78 are enjoying their retirement. If somebody at 78 still has to support her son who must be at least 30 and her grandson, there is something wrong with the system - not with Aramark.

Nobody asked the customers how they feel about the service. They could not say that they just did not complain about their cold food because they felt sorry for the struggling workers.

Nobody considered that Aramark pays for the contract, pays taxes and gets people to come to the convention center because of their excellent service. They could not point out that customers don't come back because of the ambiance and the struggling workers.

Birgit Daniels

Beaverton

Workers earned seniority

The workers who have been forced to only work limited events are women and men that not only have put many years into the Oregon Convention Center and have earned there seniority, but also do not live at home or with college roommates and see their job with Aramark as their sole profession (Workers hang in the balance, Oct. 27). Workers with mortgages.

Their economic livelihoods will be truly affected.

No one ever said that it's acceptable to serve only half a table at a time. These workers would appreciate the dignity to just take an extra trip before serving.

Better yet, let them use carts. Seriously!

Laura Williams

Scappoose

Just use the carts to serve

Carts work well and are much safer than carrying (plates) overhead (Workers hang in the balance, Oct. 27).

Carl Ronson

Happy Valley

Break the contract with concessionaires

Sad. Why doesn't Aramark discharge some of these 'new' managers (Workers hang in the balance, Oct. 27)?

If not, how can we break the contract with Aramark and never ever use them again? There is always a way.

If Sophie (Welcher) at 78 is so well situated, why doesn't she amble away and let some younger person have a job? There are so many out there, looking for work that will just let them get by until this economy changes.

Dan Maher

Southeast Portland

Workers with seniority not pulling weight

I think it is always good to see things from every side of the spectrum, so here is where I'm coming from on this issue (Workers hang in the balance, Oct. 27):

I started at the Oregon Convention Center about three years ago. I was hired on as a barista and a caterer (Starbucks being my main department).

Because I worked in a convention center-based Starbucks store, I would sometimes have a week or two without work. When that happened, I would occasionally have the opportunity to cater for events. I was excited about the chance to do this, because I was told by everyone how the pay in the catering department was much better than the hourly wage earned by my crew in Starbucks.

After I had worked a few catering shifts, I would somewhat dread being called in to serve because some of the waitstaff members who were higher than I on the seniority list would often say, 'Why are you working?' Some of them would then obsessively check the hours to make sure they were getting more work than I and my fellow C-listers.

If they were displeased they would likely file a grievances to get their 'lost wages.'

A typical check for me at this time was around $200 to $300. I had recently dropped out of school so I could work more because I had/have expenses, just as all of my co-workers do (no one can claim that their expenses are more important than anyone else's - we're all trying to get by).

I am short and not very strong, but I still carry my trays with 10 meals across the ballrooms (which are not the size of a football field) and back without complaint.

It is very frustrating to bust ass during a shift and watch coworkers do less than half the work I am doing, especially when my checks are so small and some of their checks are undoubtedly more than triple what I earn.

In Starbucks, we all pull our weight and get along just fine. If there is any animosity in the catering department it is because some are NOT pulling their weight, and the ones who ARE feel they are being taken advantage of, which is simply unfair.

I am very happy that the obvious necessary standards of the job are being more enforced, because they are standards that speak volumes about the level of service in this industry. I also hope this means I will be able to work more shifts and finish my last term at PSU without being bullied by 'superior' servers.

Nick Anderson

Northeast Portland