Despite massive problems, and a lower bid from OCSEA, Ohio renewed its prison food service contract with Aramark earlier this year. Well-documented accounts of maggots in food, staffing and food shortages, safety violations, inappropriate relationships between staff and inmates and smuggling of contraband weren’t enough, apparently, for the Ohio Dept. of Corrections to cut ties from the privateer.
And now, a Policy Matters Ohio exposé shows that the company makes the short list of employers that pay near poverty wages, leaving many employees in need of financial assistance, including food stamps.
“The company has a poor record of paying poverty wages. As of last May, Aramark had 1,587 employees who were paid so little that they or their families needed financial assistance to afford food–only 21 other employers in the state have a larger number of needy employees,” reported PMO. This is according to data obtained on the top 50 employers in Ohio with employees or family members using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps as of May 2016. This is a 34 percent increase for Aramark since 2012.
OCSEA’s food service plan, developed by union members who work in the prisons, would have saved the state $6.3 million in fiscal year 2018 ($1.227/per meal vs. Aramark’s $1.352/meal) and $6.9 million in fiscal year 2019 ($1.255/meal vs. Aramark’s $1.393/meal). But low job-quality costs Ohio in ways that don’t always factor into the decision to privatize public services, said PMO.
“All government contracts should demand a living wage,” said OCSEA President Chris Mabe. “And our food service plan did just that, plus more. At least, Ohio should require its contractors pay enough that workers can support a family without needing food aid. Union contractual rights on top of that would give Ohio workers the boost they need, not to mention taxpayers.” Read Policy Matters report.
Aramark at center of food service controversy...again
Taxpayers would win under union food service plan