Putting Education Reform To The Test

UM Students Protest Firing Of Miss Betty

Monica Herndon/The Miami Hurricane

Betty Asbury gets a hug from a supporter.

Students at the University of Miami (UM) are protesting the firing of a popular cafeteria worker.

Betty Asbury was fired two weeks ago by the food service company Chartwells. According to Asbury, she was fired after a man walked by her cashier post without paying for breakfast.

Asbury says her district manager reviewed security video and saw that the man didn’t eat though — he was simply looking for the restroom.

Chartwells would not confirm the specifics of the firing citing confidentiality laws.

It said the company can fire its workers for any reason since they are “at-will employees.”

But students miss the employee they call Miss Betty.

UM grad student Philipp Schwind launched a campaign on Change.org to get Asbury reinstated. More than 3,000 supporters have gone online to sign the petition.

They’re also supporting efforts by Chartwells employees at UM to form a union. More than 300 workers are seeking job protection.

“The men and women who feed us should be treated better than this,” Schwind said. “Betty was one of the people who made the University of Miami community a better place.”

Every petition signature is sent via email to UM President Donna Shalala and to Chartwells’ District Manager Lee Rapport.

Chartwells has been a UM partner since 1994.

More from the Chartwells statement to StateImpact Florida:

We are very sympathetic and respectful to the concerns raised in the campus community after the release of a well-liked associate. Due to privacy concerns and confidentiality laws, our ability to discuss or comment upon specific associates or issues surrounding their employment is quite limited.

Based on our understanding of the facts, it does not appear that the former employee has provided complete information to the community.

In light of publicly raised concerns, Chartwells is dispatching a corporate Human Resource team to conduct an immediate and thorough review of the termination next week. We will also review policies and procedures. The process is expected to take approximately one week.

Asbury said her employee record is spotless, and she recently got a raise.

“I love the University of Miami and my job and hope Chartwells and the university come to their senses and give me my job back,” Asbury said.

Students will demonstrate their support for Asbury and Chartwells employees on campus this afternoon at 2:00.


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