James Chai | CUPE Communications

Faced with a new company taking over food service operations at Trent University, 80 food service workers from CUPE 3205 were served with concessions by their new employer, Compass Group. The company is a giant in the food industry and their position at bargaining was designed to gut the collective agreement and break the union and the workers’ spirit.

Concessions included drastic wage cuts, benefit reductions, loss of service, cuts to full-time staff and a host of other takeaways, eliminating rights the workers had achieved over 25 years. They fought back by building solidarity among their membership, with labour groups on campus and with the university community and asking Trent University to urge Compass Group to treat their workers fairly.

“The support we received from CUPE, other unions, faculty, academic workers, students and the larger community was amazing,” said Judie Gates, president of CUPE 3205. “We expected a seamless transition from our new employer, as promised by Trent, instead Compass served us a long concessions menu and we immediately reached out to our union and staged a community campaign to fight off a big company.”

This fight-back by CUPE 3205 shows what can be achieved no matter how big or how small your local is, when you build solidarity.