Local Officials Demand Gov. Snyder End Aramark Prison Contract, Hold Company Accountable for Banned Employees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan 

July 31, 2014

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org

Local Officials Demand Gov. Snyder End Aramark Prison Contract, Hold Company Accountable for Banned Employees

County commissioners express concern over privatization given high-profile failure of prison contract

MICHIGAN — Today, county commissioners from Ingham and Oakland County demanded that Governor Snyder end the state’s contract with Aramark for prison food services. The call comes after months of high-profile problems that have resulted from the contract, including maggots in the food, inappropriate employee relationships with prisoners, food shortages and over 80 Aramark employees being banned from state prisons.

Those on the call also urged local officials across the state to investigate Aramark contracts on the local level and take a critical look at privatization in their communities.

“Governor Snyder’s decision to privatize state prison food service through Aramark has been a colossal failure,” said Oakland County Commissioner Dave Woodward. “When Governor Snyder cut 370 good-paying jobs to make way for the Aramark contract, he was quoted saying they would “hopefully” provide better service. Well, our supposedly data-driven governor banked on hope rather than facts and lost.”

Earlier today at a county commission meeting, Woodward introduced “A Resolution to Protect Taxpayer Dollars and Ensure Corporate Accountability” that urges Gov. Snyder to cancel the Aramark contract and pushes for corporate accountability measures to ensure bad actors are not abusing the public dollar and trust on a local level.

“The resolution will hopefully serve as a model to other communities who want to keep privatization in check,” Woodward continued.

Ingham County Commissioner Kara Hope also called on Governor Snyder to end Aramark’s contract. She spoke on a personal level about her concern for the safety of corrections officers in prisons. 

“Both of my parents worked for decades in corrections. One of my mom’s regular duties was to ‘run chow lines.’ It is a time of day in prison that is rife with potential for chaos. So anything that adds to the chaos – like maggots in the food or food shortages – hits home for me,” she said. “Anything that unnecessarily makes a corrections officer’s work day more dangerous is grossly irresponsible. And it communicates a disregard for their safety and a disregard for the work that they do every day.”

Hope also urged her colleagues in local government to do their due diligence when it comes to hiring private contractors with public dollars.

“Given the high-profile nature of Aramark’s prison food service contract, we think it’s important for communities to re-evaluate any contracts they have with Aramark and take a critical look at the services they or other private vendors provide,” she said. “Taxpayer dollars should not go to corporate bad actors that don’t provide quality service.”

One area that has not been discussed regarding the state’s situation with Aramark is the problem with the nearly one-third of their workforce that has been banned from state prisons. Aramark runs a large network of services at various levels of government. The public has the right to know if these workers are ending up elsewhere on the public dollar.

“Aramark employees were caught having sexual contact with inmates and some were found to be smuggling drugs into prisons. Where are these employees now? Are they working in our elementary schools serving food to our children? Are they taking care of our elderly? Are they working in our public universities?” questioned Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “The public has a right to know that bad actors are not being sent to work with our most vulnerable populations.”

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