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CUPE wants boycott of new U of R sushi outlet

REGINA – The union representing food service employees at the University of Regina is asking students and staff to avoid a new sushi kiosk on campus.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is accusing Chartwells, which operates food services at the university, of allowing Bento Sushi to open its doors in September with non-union staff.

“They’re trained differently, employed differently, they don’t earn the same wage, they don’t have benefits,” said CUPE Local 5791 president Jamie Mellor. “It’s not the same, it’s not fair.”

Mellor says the union is considering legal action because Bento Sushi, located in the laboratory building, is the only Chartwells franchise operator to employ outside the union.

“These members may lose their jobs in the long run.”

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“You can’t negotiate together, you can’t collectively bargain together,” Mellor said. “Everybody needs to earn the same wage and collect the same benefit in the same work environment and that’s not happening here.”

CUPE argues a Noodle Box outlet employed its members at the same location – also preparing and selling sushi – until April 2015. A union spokesperson says a similar Chartwells attempt to employ non-CUPE food service staff at Trent University was challenged successfully.

Chartwells, under parent company Compass Group Canada, employs roughly 50 food service staff from CUPE 5791, including employees at franchise outlets such as Tim Horton’s.

Mellor calls the Bento Sushi case a “union-busting” effort and an attempt to privatize more food services at the U of R.

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“If they do it once, they could do it again. These members may lose their jobs in the long run.”

Requests for comment from Compass and the local Chartwells food service manager were not returned.

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