There has been much hair-pulling and garment-rending from UNITE-HERE Local 11 and its allies over Anaheim Arena Management’s decision to let Aramark go and bring Honda Center food service in-house. Union predictions of Dickensian misery for its UNITE-HERE members who are Honda Center food service workers are heard at any available public hearing in Anaheim and reverberate in the Voice of OC echo chamber.

The reality is all of it has little to do with reality. According to multiple sources, more than 3,000 people have applied for food service positions at The Honda Center, and everyone who applies is offered the chance to interview. It’s interesting that reportedly only about half the applicants have accepted interviews offers — which tells me half the people who applied did so in order to mark it on their unemployment benefit forms. Apparently, around 250 people have been hired thus far for full-time positions.

The most intriguing thing I have heard (again, from multiple sources) is that only about half of the Aramark workers represented by UNITE-HERE have actually applied for jobs.  Kind of takes the wind out of UNITE-HERE’s howling when the members they say are being kicked to the curb. Local 11 has even asked for their members to be given preference in hiring — which is hard to do when they aren’t even applying to continue working at the Honda Center.

It’s worth considering that the Aramark employees who received lay-off notices are the ones whose “primary” work location is The Honda Center. They could also be working at Angel Stadium or the Convention Center. All of this gives lie to the union hollering that they are being tossed out of work.

The real concern of UNITE-HERE Local 11 is loss of membership. In addition to dues from Aramark employees’ paychecks,  it’s my understanding Local 11 receives somewhere between $3 and $4 per hour per employee, which helps finance Local 11’s health plan. The loss of that revenue puts a serious crimp in Local 11’s ability to finance its health care plan.

At the end of the day, this is and should be about providing quality food service to Honda Center patrons who are paying a lot of money to attend events and to buy food and drink at those events. That isn’t what they’ve been getting. Here’s a representative opinion from a Ducks season ticket holder:

As an Anaheim Ducks season ticket holder since 2007, I’ve been an Aramark “customer” for a minimum of 41 days a year over the past 6 years. I can honestly say that during that time I have experienced the worst customer service ever. Dozens of other season ticket holders, in multiple forums, have discussed thier similarly terrible experiences with me as well.

The multiple food stands throughout the Honda center are required to provide F&B service the thousands of people during the two 20 minutes breaks during a hockey game. You’d think throughout their years of experience, that they’d have improved. Sadly, they have not.

 Examples of the bad food include:

-Consistently dry and hard buns
-Cold hot dogs
-Stale pretzels

But the real problem? The real problem is with the employees and the service. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve…
-stood in front of an employee who didn’t know how to work the register.
-had to wait 5 minutes while they walk back and forth slowly collecting the food and drinks I’ve ordered.
-had to correct them on the details of my order.
-been told that they were out of an item, pretzels, etc, 10 minutes after the game starts.
-watched as overwhelmed cashiers werent helped by supervisors standing and watching.

I once had one girl tell me she was supposed to be bartending, and had no idea what she was doing!

If Oggis pizza can have well over 100 personal pizzas waiting for the crowds, how can Aramark explain NEVER being ready for the rush?
Last night, for example, I immediately ran out at the break to get 2 hotdogs and a coke, likely their most popular items after beer… After a 15 minute wait behind only 2 customers, the cashier informed me that his line was drinks only. It was NOT marked as such. He refused to get me my two hot dogs, which were 2 feet to his left, and I was forced to get in the next line, at the same counter, behind the 10 customers that had shown up while I waited. And if you think it was my fault for not seeing a non-existent sign, 10 people in line behind me had to move as well. It took me an additional 30 minutes to get my food. Both hotdogs were luke warm when I got them, and I got back to me seat halfway through the next period.

I was laid off from my job in 2008 due to a company takeover, and had to seek employment elsewhere, like thousands of other Americans. How is this any different? The employees’ issue should be with their employer, Aramark, and their obvious lack of training and efficiency. Aramark is a vendor, and vendors have to consistenly fight for their business in ANY line of work. Aramark should have done a better job, and the blame lays with them.

It’s sad when people lose their jobs, I agree, but there are no free rides nowadays, no one is entitled to anything, union or not. I, for one, am thrilled that Anaheim Arena Management and the Samueli’s are doing what’s best for us, their fans, their customers. Go Ducks!

Anaheim Arena Management is simply responding to the needs of their customers. That’s what the private sector does.