|By Jay Fitzgerald, Boston
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
February 9, 2010 - --The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and its union workers got into a food fight yesterday over the dumping of the longtime concessionaire serving the Hynes Auditorium and the new South Boston center.
James Rooney, MCAA executive director, said the authority will end its food and beverage contract with Aramark Corp. after a rocky relationship with the Philadelphia-based company in recent years.
Rooney, who two years ago threatened to cut the MCCA's ties with Aramark, said the authority was simply tired of what he called inconsistent service from Aramark.
"It was frustrating," he said, noting that feedback from convention-goers about food service at the two sites varied from "outstanding" to "very negative."
Rooney said Levy Restaurants, a giant concessionaire in Chicago, won a competitive bidding process for the new contract, valued at about $27 million a year. He added that Levy, whose contract is expected to be approved on Thursday by the full MCCA board, has agreed to honor a collective bargaining agreement with about 400 food-service workers, who recently won a bitter collective-bargaining battle under Aramark.
But the head of Unite Here Local 26 yesterday issued a blistering statement, saying the union hadn't been consulted about the contract change and, as a result, hundreds of jobs may be at stake.
"Those families are threatened today because Jim Rooney refuses to respect (workers)," union president Janice Loux said. "He is saying that this agreement (with Levy) is in place when it is not."
Rooney countered that Levy, which could not be reached for comment, has assured him it will honor the Unite Here contract when it takes over the convention food-service job on June 1.
"It's a matter of formalities," Rooney said.
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