UMES to Outsource Dining Services in Somerset Co. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

UMES to Outsource Dining Services in Somerset Co.

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PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- The University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced plans today to outsource its dining services to a private vendor, which will put more than 70 workers out of a job.

School officials said food service workers will get the chance to reapply for their position under the new vendor. They said companies that submitted proposals have agreed to interview current workers and match salary levels at the time of their bid.

When the idea to outsource dining services surfaced last year, it sparked outrage. Union representatives, campus employees and students took to the streets last October to protest the proposal. They wanted to save workers’ jobs.

One of those jobs belongs to Latashya Hall who works in the Hawks Nest, one of a few places where students can buy food on campus. Hall has worked there for nearly three years.

  "I love the people I work with. I love my bosses, so that's why I hope everything works out where I'll still be able to be here," she said.

While Hall clings to that hope, she has no choice but to look for work elsewhere.

The college has run its own food services for nearly 20 years. It is one of three institutions that operate that way. Nine of 12 University System of Maryland institutions contract their campus food services with a commercial provider. UMES will soon do the same.

In a statement, UMES President Juliette Bell called the decision ‘difficult.’ She said it was made to “ensure [UMES] is doing what’s best for the students and the university.”

School officials said the change would help save money and provide more dining options.

The Maryland Chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees criticized Bell’s decision, calling it “ a shameful move.” In a statement, the union said it will “drive workers below the poverty line.”

Ladonna Jacobs hopes to get her job back at UMES.

 " I'm going to look for other employment because we have to reapply and just hope that the years that I've been here and the experience that I have as a cook, they will hire me back," she said.

School officials said the proposal will be vetted by the University System of Maryland and other state agencies.

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