BREAKING: Simmons addresses support for dining workers amidst all-day “Simmons National Day of Action for Dining Workers”

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Katie Cole, Staff Writer

BREAKING: Simmons Preparedness Committee addresses support for dining workers as students participate in a phone bank for “Simmons National Day of Action for Dining Workers.”

VP of University Real Estate and Facilities Management Laura Brink Pisinski announced in an email to students that Aramark entered into an agreement with labor union Unite Here! on March 30 to offer “provisions and protections” for Aramark employees. Aramark workers make up the staff at campus dining facilities.  According to the email, the agreement includes medical benefits extended through August 31 for employees enrolled in Aramark benefit plans and up to 21 additional days of paid sick time for quarantined workers. 

Aramark’s Employee Assistance Program, which was put into place to help employees manage anxieties caused by COVID-19, is being offered to all workers for free, according to the email. Employees will also have access to Telehealth, an online health screening service where clinicians virtually evaluate a patient’s symptoms to determine whether they should seek medical care, according to the email. Brink Pisinski also noted that furloughed workers can apply for unemployment benefits through the state and that employees will have the current positions when campus is reopened. 

This announcement comes as students host a phone bank in which students, alumni and faculty are encouraged to contact Assistant Dean of Student Engagement Corey Zohlman and Assistant Vice President of University Real Estate Development and Facilities Management  Joan Martinez Cuerva to demand full pay and benefits for Simmons dining staff,according to a Facebook event page. 

About half an hour after Pisinksi sent out the email, senior Rhianna Stevens, who is one of the event hosts, posted a statement to the event page reading, in part, “Our demands are far from met. We need to continue pressuring the institution to provide pay ALL of their employees’ FULL salaries during this time.” 

This is a developing story and will be updated.