Last month, Democracy Tree reported about violations committed by the privatized vendor hired by Michigan to provide food service in the state’s prisons. Before the ink was dry on the less than one-year old deal, the Department of Corrections slapped the company with a $98,000 fine for failing to live up to the provisions of their $145 million contract.
Now Ohio is finding fault with the same contractor for similar breaches of its recent $110 million contract. Much like in Michigan, it appears the vendor may have low-balled their bid, and are now cutting-corners to turn a profit. Several days ago, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction issued a $142,100 fine for failure to maintain proper staffing, failure to have a certified food manager at one facility, and spotty record-keeping in another.
Union members that were displaced by Aramark workers have filed a grievance with the state. Christopher Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association described some specifics:
“Prison employees have logged thousands of alleged problems with Aramark, including menu substitutions, delays in the food line, poor food quality and small portions. He called on the state to return food service to a publicly operated system.”
“The most serious issues involve the increase in security breaches, including a sharp rise in contraband (and) inappropriate sexual relationships.”
The contract was awarded last fall, and since that time, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction have banned 76 Aramark employees from their facilities for “serious misconduct”.
This certainly will sound all too familiar to members of Michigan’s AFSCME Council 25, where 373 workers were put out of work when Aramark rolled into town. AFSCME spokesperson, Nick Ciaramitaro, foretold the problem, but Michigan Republicans refused to listen.
“We’re now allowing an outside vendor to come in and pretend that they’re saving money because not every prisoner eats every meal. They cook the books to show a one-time savings.”
A Detroit Free Press article supported Ciaramitaro’s claim:
A 2007 report by the Florida Department of Corrections Bureau of Internal Audit found that a large number of prisoners stopped showing up for meals after Aramark took over the contract, creating a windfall for the vendor and reducing the value of the services provided without a proportionate decrease in … rates charged to the department.
Aramark won the Ohio contract through promises to save the state’s taxpayers $14 million a year. That was the same song and dance used in Michigan. Ohio Republicans are apparently as easily duped as those in Michigan.