smiling man in kitchen wearing white chef uniform with support staff behind him procurement

In late 2016, SFU launched a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking a forward-thinking food services provider focused on exceptional customer service, sustainable practices, wellness, cultural awareness and staff engagement. In addition to providing high quality, healthy foods for its diverse community, SFU required all proponents to describe how they would:

  • Transition existing dining services staff, members of UNITE HERE Local 40, to similar roles with the same or higher pay and seniority under the new contract, and
  • Ensure service quality and continuity throughout the transition period.

Cross-departmental collaborations among various administrative departments including Procurement Services, Ancillary Services, and the Sustainability Office were instrumental to the success of this innovative practice. By adding a staff continuity requirement, SFU demonstrated its commitment to securing equitable pay and job security for its service providers hired under third party contracts. The work was facilitated by SFU’s vision of “Engaging the World” and strong emphasis on social infrastructure and sustainability, as well as leadership support from the President.

The Outcome

The first collective agreement between UNITE HERE 40 and Sodexo was reached in March 2017, securing job continuity, inclusive of wages and seniority, for all 174 existing dining services staff. Furthermore, Sodexo has agreed to recognize the worker’s union, and to honour their existing health care and pension benefits. By advocating for staff continuity through its RFP process and demonstrating support for UNITE HERE Local 40 members, SFU was able to mitigate service disruptions associated with hiring and training of new dining staff by the incoming service provider. The continuity requirement also ensured security of employment for these workers.

SFU is currently pursuing a similar staff continuity requirement for its janitorial contract (168 staff) and has received multiple inquiries on the transferability of this practice from peer institutions. By setting a new industry best practice and demonstrating its feasibility and success, SFU directly contributes to its vision of being Canada’s leading engaged University.

Source: The State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada, 2017

Readers are cautioned not to rely upon this article as legal advice nor as an exhaustive discussion of the topic or case.  For any particular legal problem, seek advice directly from your lawyer or in-house counsel.  All dates, contact information and website addresses were current at the time of original publication.