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Chartwells and the University of Miami: Bring Ms. Betty back!

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Betty Asbury, a single mother and cashier at the University of Miami, was fired because a man used the restroom.

Recently, she didn’t notice a man pass by her cashier station while she was busy ringing up another customer.  The next day she was fired.

According to Betty, her district manager later admitted that he had reviewed the security tapes and the man had gone straight to the restroom and did not get food. 

The district manager said corporate policy prevented him from rehiring her.

Betty worked for Chartwells -- a division of Compass Group -- the largest contract foodservice company in the world with operations in over 50 countries and revenues of over $24 billion dollars in 2011. Chartwells has contracts to feed students on over 200 college campuses in the U.S.

Chartwells was allowed to fire Miss Betty because their workers are “at-will employees.” This means they can be fired at any time, without any notice.

The students of the University of Miami love Betty -- known as Miss Betty on campus -- and we want her to get her job back.

Miss Betty’s treatment sheds light on a greater issue that over 300 workers at our university are facing at Chartwells: What has happened to Miss Betty can happen to any worker at any time. Workers at Chartwells have no job security or protections, their livelihoods are left at the hands of arbitrary decisions by management.

Recently, Chartwells workers at the University of Miami have been organizing to form a union so that they can have a voice on the job and to make sure that what happened to Miss Betty does not happen again. We support the effort of these workers to organize and to try and get justice in the workplace.

We believe that this kind of treatment of such an integral part of the UM community is unacceptable. The university should demand higher standards and values for those we do business with. 

We ask for the expedient reinstatement of Betty in her workplace and for the university administration to look deeper into the issues Chartwells workers face on campus. The University of Miami is a leading institution in education and research in Florida and the nation, and should strive to set an example for the fair treatment and respect of those that are many times invisible to society.

Photo credit: Monica Herndon/The Miami Hurricane 

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