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Aramark criticized by unions over prison contract


MIAMI Service unions UNITE HERE and the Service Employees International Union are calling for an investigation into contracts held by Philadelphia-based contract foodservice concern Aramark Corp. with Florida’s Department of Corrections.

The call for the investigation was made Friday during a labor rally here and centers around the findings in a 2007 report by the Inspector General of the Florida Department of Corrections, that alleges Aramark was collecting “windfall profits” from its foodservice contract with the state’s prison system. The report further determined that if the department did not renew the contract and self-operated the foodservice, the state of Florida would save approximately $7 million a year.

The unions are demanding an investigation that would examine the company’s current and past conduct regarding gaps between meals served and billed for, savings resulting from menu changes and the hiring of any state official who approved menu changes.

An Aramark spokeswoman said, “The real story here is that the unions are getting more and more desperate and they’re making outrageous claims about the company. The report they quoted from was actually a draft report and Aramark’s response to it so greatly satisfied the Department of Corrections, they didn’t even bother to issue a final report. In fact, the Florida State of Department of Corrections found that the company exceeded all of their objectives and fully complied with the contract [to ensure] that the department’s menu committee appropriately saw any menu changes.”

The spokeswoman also refuted the unions’ claims that taxpayers had suffered as a result of the contract.

“Since Aramark started serving the Florida DOC in 2001, we have saved taxpayers in the state $100 million,” she said. “What you’re seeing isn’t about the client or the taxpayers. It’s about the unions trying to use various tactics to improve their membership.”

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