Because someone had to pay, Canucks fire entire concession staff

You can point fingers in just about any direction with the Canucks.

The coach has lost the room, you might say, which may be why he was trying so hard to get into Calgary’s room that one day: he was confused, and thought they were in his room. (Listen closely to the audio: “This is my room!” Tortorella keeps shouting. “You’d better not be touching my stuff!”)

The assistant coaches are running a powerplay and a defence that can’t score and can’t hold leads, respectively. Mike Gillis has assembled a roster that appears to have quit on their coach, which doesn’t exactly speak to his mission to build a roster with character and integrity. By several accounts, the owner is a meddlesome roadblock towards improvement and singular vision. No one is playing well. No one is playing the system. Kevin Bieksa is teaching a literature class.

It’s chaos in Vancouver, and with the club delaying their season ticket renewal letter until they can pair it with some kind of optimism, it’s clear, and it became clearer after Monday night’s historic collapse, that someone needs to pay.

On Tuesday morning, the hammer came down. After 18 years working with the concession pros at Aramark Canada, the Canucks have fired their entire concession staff. From CBC:

Nearly 1,000 people who serve food and beverages at Vancouver Canucks hockey games and other events at Rogers Arena will be out of work in a few months.

Concession and food service employees arriving at work Monday were given notices telling them that their employer Aramark’s contract at the arena, which was supposed to last into 2015, had been terminated early.

[...] The arena’s chief operating officer Victor de Bonis said “big changes” in the arena’s food and drink services are going to be unveiled July 1, and they plan to run the concession themselves, including hiring 1,000 new workers.

There it is. The heads, they have rolled. Now you know: this team finds losing as unacceptable as you do. The Canucks, my friends, are back on track. The first domino has fallen. As Aidan Brand points out, If everyone in the building is choking, your problem is in the kitchen.

Let the decree go forth: this team will not stagnate, and they will no longer regress. The Canucks are committed to building a winning organization, and that means everything, from the offence, to the defence, to the nine-dollar hot dog you stuff in your craw.

That will be a winner’s hot dog, gosh darn it. The Canucks won’t rest until their hot dogs can compete with the hot dogs of Southern California. We need hot dogs committed to long-term success. Hot dogs with character. And heart. And grit. Well maybe not grit. Definitely heart, though. But not animal heart. Preferably meat.

The Canucks aren’t interested in a full concession rebuild — no sir, they’re going to retool, building around staple items like peanuts and popcorn, then developing new prospects, like high-end pad thai, and… chocolate chip cookie shots, perhaps.

They should really get chocolate chip cookie shots.

But seriously, what are the Canucks doing? You’re trying desperately to seem appealing to a fanbase that can hardly stand to look at you and you fire 1000 people?

Aramark claims that their contract is valid until 2015 and will fight the decision, because the Canucks can’t seem to do anything the easy way right now. But it does bode well for the Canucks’ future that ownership is willing to terminate contracts that have a few years left on them, no?

36 comments

  1. M
    March 11, 2014

    Looks like the owners are bracing for a significant loss of season ticket holder money. Since money has always been the only priority for this ownership group, they will try to make up for it by firing their concession staff and replacing them with lower paid workers. My guess is they’ll also jack up the prices of food too, because why not? The poor owners have to get paid somehow.

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    • Adam Nowek
      March 12, 2014

      I think that the waiting list for season tickets is long enough that this will not be much of a problem. The on-ice product is a catastrophic mess, but their business model is doing just fine.

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  2. JO
    March 11, 2014

    Canucks don’t send those season tix renewals, nobody will buy. This reminds me of the Messier era – lots of fans turned off.

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  3. peanutflower
    March 11, 2014

    Well, in December Torts was everybody’s darling. Then he was lauded for taking one for the team for the dressing room fiasco. People are fickle. The Aquilinis are not a charitable organization. I don’t pretend to understand the concession people thing — who knows when the arrangements for this started. Maybe it was done a long time ago and the circumstances of it now appear less than positive. I hear rumours that the team is “protesting” in some fashion. If I were a season ticket holder and if this were the case I would sue for fraud lol. I would tell all these multi-millionaire players to pull up their panties and get on with the show.

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  4. Naturalmystic
    March 11, 2014

    So the Aqulini family decides they aren’t rich enough and terminate the Armark contract to keep more dollars in house. You can be sure that minimum wage will be all their concession staff are offered. Francisco must need every penny he can get to cover his divorce settlement. His family probably also needs more money to cover the $125k WorkSafe BC fine because they thought safe and well maintained vehicles were an necessary luxury for their farm employees. What are the odds there is going to be a increase in ticket and concession prices for the 14-15 season?

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    • Naturalmystic
      March 11, 2014

      unnecessary luxury

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    • rg
      March 11, 2014

      Aquilini does not know how to treat their employees. Their vendors hates them, city of pitt meadows hates them. They have enough cases against them. But they are still not learning their lesson.

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  5. keiichi
    March 11, 2014

    Sort of misleading title…Perhaps Aramark wasn’t living up to it’s agreed standards? Aramark pays pretty low and the Canucks did say that they plan to run their own concessions, it might be better for the eventual workers.

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    • Cam Charron
      March 11, 2014

      Wait, are you suggesting that the concession operators MAY NOT have been fired because of the hockey team’s performance?

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    • Joe
      March 11, 2014

      I bit overly generous toward the Aquilinis I think. It seems that they have begun recruiting their new staff on university campuses, and probably similar venues where young people, who are desperate for some cash, can be found. I smell minimum wage! Nothing like squeezing out every last cent from the working poor in this town.

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  6. Mystified
    March 11, 2014

    Didn’t Aramark serve booze to a minor? That might be breach of contract?

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  7. Cam Charron
    March 11, 2014

    No, see, the joke is that ~obviously~ this has nothing to do with hockey. Not everything is connected. This isn’t like the plot by American authorities to blow up the World Trade Centre.

    Wake up Sheeple.

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  8. bennner
    March 11, 2014

    No crying here… waiting 20 minutes for a beer during a 15 minute break has been unacceptable for ages. I’m hoping for better food, better service, and prices to be maintained… buy hey, I’m an optimist!

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  9. Another Former Canucks Fan
    March 11, 2014

    I have a feeling that if you’re on the waiting list for Canucks season tickets, that you’re finally going to have a chance to “fulfill your destiny”. Unfortunately, the product on the ice is going to suck hard for the next few seasons.

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  10. JS Topher
    March 11, 2014

    Maybe this might mean that they plan to use their own food program so that they can cut cost and become more efficient having that reflect in the pricing. If that is the plan, I say Good! I find the current concession workers terribly inadequate. It’s painful to watch them whilst I stand in line for so long for my overpriced garbage food.

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    • Rob Robertson
      March 11, 2014

      They are going to keep prices the same so they can keep all the sweet sweet profits for themselves.

      They may even raise prices because they likely won’t be as efficient as Aramark who are focused on selling concessions and nothing else.

      I just used the words Aramark and efficient in the same sentence. That’s a first.

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      • JS Topher
        March 11, 2014

        This is all highly likely. BUT! Maybe, juuuust maybe, their way of making ticket sales more appealing to the increasingly apathetic fans, will be to lower prices. Even if only for certain games.

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    • Mo
      March 12, 2014

      I agree – it’s very frustrating standing in line watching the speed they move at, when there’s a limited amount of time available between periods. I’ve been asked by the Canucks for input regarding this a couple of times in the past, and everyone on the ticket-holder panel has complained about the service. So I for one can understand why this is happening, but not necessarily why now. Except, this may be part of the changes that are coming soon – the new building attached to the Arena will have more restaurants and concessions, so I’m assuming the old concessions will become part of the whole new look.

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  11. LauMa
    March 11, 2014

    The Canucks are firing 1000 people but also as you state in the article – then hiring a 1000 new people. I’m not crazy about management or how the team is doing but how can anyone be stupid enough to imply a concessions change has anything to do with the team? Are they seriously not doing enough actual things wrong that we have to try to invent ones?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 11, 2014

      Well, my outrage is mostly facetious, but I’d point out that 1000 people are still losing their jobs. Some will return to similar jobs, but right away? And in the meantime, they’re not getting any money and they haven’t been promised jobs, so they still have to worry where their next paycheque is coming from. It’s not quite as simple as “job goes out, job comes in.”

      And with the Canucks struggling to please their fanbase, firing 1000 people so ownership can have a bigger profit share on concessions isn’t exactly going to help.

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      • GM
        March 11, 2014

        They are not firing 1000 people. They are changing vendors. The employees would be out of work over the summer already. The article you linked to says that the contract will remain for the rest of the season and “everyone will have a fair opportunity to apply”. What normally happens in this situation is the new management (Canucks or new vendor) will renew everyone who has had no disciplinary history. Depending on wage changes, they can expect to ratain 90% of employees.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          March 11, 2014

          They ARE firing 1000 people. Again, nobody’s job is guaranteed, and as you yourself suggested, there’s also no guarantee that they’re coming back at a similar wage. Lots of people will return next year under the new arrangement, sure, but a lot of people are in a rough spot here.

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          • LauMa
            March 11, 2014

            They shouldn’t be allowed to change vendors that for all you know might be a huge improvement, or hire and fire because Canuck fan moral is down? No one’s job is ever guaranteed nor should it be. In this case they haven’t done anything wrong and you’re just piling on.

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            • Joe
              March 11, 2014

              HM: I am with you totally on this. I don’t believe for a moment that the Aquilinis plan to provide better food at the same or lower prices, nor that they will pay new workers what the current staff are receiving. I just watched a news clip where UBC students discussed being interviewed for new concession positions. The greed of the Aquilinis and the ineptitude of hockey management for the Canucks may know no bounds.

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            • Harrison Mooney
              March 12, 2014

              All I’m saying is, with a season ticket renewal letter delayed because people are pretty upset with them, the timing is pretty terrible to be firing 1000 people for what, ostensibly, appears to be a money grab. They can do what they want. Free market, yada yada yada. But this is a PR nightmare at the worst possible time.

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          • GM
            March 12, 2014

            Just because the job is not guaranteed doesn’t mean they are being fired. I have been in a situation like this before. The first 2 times it happened to me, I filled out some paperwork and the only thing that changed was the name on my paycheck. By the 3rd time, I had found another job, but stayed with the new vendor as an emergency “consultant”. The employees will only have to fill out some paperwork if they want to remain employed there. Do you know how much money it costs to hire 1000 people? The greedy owners are aware of the costs and realise that it is cheaper to keep the employees they already have.

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            • Adrianna
              March 17, 2014

              I have connections to the Aramark staff.

              RE: “Just because the job is not guaranteed doesn’t mean they are being fired”

              You mentioned that you got rehired each time that you got “let go”. The difference in the Aramark case is that all the workers are unionized.

              No company wants to have a union. It only takes a 51% staff vote to have a union implemented. If they hire close to half the workers back they are in danger of having the company unionized.

              I think it`s more likely they will hire a handful of key people who know the job inside and out, just so that the place runs more smoothly. And let go of the rest of the 1000 staff — especially because of the fact they are part of the union.

              Plus, in my view, Aramark is also a “bottomline” company. A company that is likely to make it difficult for Canucks to hire Aramark staff independently because that would mean it would be easier for Canuck Sports and Entertainment to terminate the Aramark contract. Aramark cooperating in that way would bite Aramark in the arse.

              Perhaps Aramark might legally settle for a fee, but I see that settlement will benefit the company, not the staff.

              There were also no announcements, from either company, to the Aramark staff that there was a Canucks hiring fair at UBC for 800+ positions for the next two days after the termination announcement. It seems so hush hush, as though *neither* company wants the old staff to be working there (for the above reasons).

              RE: “new management (Canucks or new vendor) will renew everyone who has had no disciplinary history”

              The only company that has access to Aramark Staff files is Aramark and the Aramark staff. Also, see the above reasons why renewing is long shot.

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  12. Iceman
    March 11, 2014

    Right on. This is the management reset/retooling/rebuild we fans have been screaming for. I am so impressed with the ownership group’s prompt action to address to the team’s biggest identity crisis in 40 years.

    Wait a sec… Why the sudden desire to run the concession and serve food & beverage themselves?

    (Putting my tinfoil hat on) They want to slip in a secret edible ingredient that makes people feeling happy, no matter how terribly their main product performs on the ice.

    “…Hey look! We just lost the game 12-0 while having three hits and five SOG . Isn’t this team fascinating?”
    “Yeah man. Canucks are really showing generosity and affection toward the other teams in the league… If we keep this up Bettman may reward the entire team Lady Byng Trophy…”

    Alright, enough with the delusion. It makes me sick already.

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  13. GeezMoney
    March 11, 2014

    Looks like the heat is turning up on Ol’ Frankie. Gosh I miss the Griffiths days. Not a lot of money, but there was at least honour. 2Pts — F.G. (someone find a fenwick% to back this honour claim up, quick!)

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  14. akidd
    March 11, 2014

    i like my hockey. it’s nice to have around, especially in the winter. it’s entertaining, it’s good for the brain, and it’s a nice outlet for analytical exercising, like we get into here on pitb. (it’s good writing practise too for us bulies:) lots of good things. as well i believe hockey can unite people of different ideologies with some very important common ground. no small thing.

    so i turn a blind eye to the political/economic downside. there’s lots of other companies to get upset about. you’d go nuts worrying about them all. so i give canuck inc a pass, or at least i try not to think about it because it’s more convenient that way.

    one of the arguments i hear about supporting the canucks is the trickle-down that it generates. I’ve also appreciated community efforts like mindchek and the children’s hospital. I’ve talked to people who work at head office and they say that’s it’s a really good environment to work in. that people feel important and are proud of their community involvement. they give a lot of praise to gillis, say he is a big impetus in the move toward better corporate/company citizenship, and say that before him this wasn’t always such a priority for the canucks. it made me feel good to hear that.

    i’m not naive and understand somewhat how pr works but if some good is being done why knock it. like i said there are bigger fish to fry. or other fish anyway.

    so when i hear accusations of slumlord, or worker safety violations, or shady developers, or political influence and power, i conveniently tune it out as best i can. i also try to tune out the thought of how the canucks suck up a lot of entertainment dollars that might otherwise support more arts, entertainment and culture, both local and otherwise. as well, i try to tune out general bread and circus arguments or thoughts about the emotional health effects of investing so much energy in an outcome you can’t control and the wisdom of willfully involving myself in an activity with so many rollercoaster highs and lows(ohm:)

    I don’t know anything about Aramark and their business ethics, how they treat/pay their employees, whether they are a local company or how much they take off the top etc, etc. and there is a scenario out there where cutting out the middleman, paying better wages or lowering concessions and/or ticket prices could be a good thing.

    but I’m pretty suspicious though that there might be another scenario, a more ruthless one, one that puts another weight on the wrong side of the scale for me.

    If that’s the case, even for a hockey addict like myself, it will become increasingly difficult to support the millionaires and the billionaires and the platform for northern gateway and other unhealthy goodies etc, etc, especially seeings how the other side of the scale has fairly recently been lightened both in quality of content and regards to emotional well-being.

    know what i’m saying?

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  15. Dave
    March 11, 2014

    The Aquilinis will try to spin this as a measure to improve the quality and service of the concessions at Rogers Arena, but I can guarantee that all of the new 1,000 hires will be paid substantially less than the current concession employees.

    I don’t think that this has anything to do with the current state of the Canucks – if the Aquilinis were making $100 million a year from the team, they would do the same thing IMO. They are all about that dollar.

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  16. Sean
    March 12, 2014

    Instead of lobbying for new management, perhaps we should be pushing for new owners. The Aquilinis act like heartless monsters. But I suppose anyone with enough money to own a hockey team is going to be a dick.

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  17. JS Topher
    March 12, 2014

    Remember when Tom Gaglardi was looked upon as the bad guy?

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  18. RC
    March 13, 2014

    Add this to the list of more people let down by the Canucks. How quickly the story disappeared when the Canucks screwed over a thousand or so children for the Winter Classic when they ‘accidentally’ said a number of teams had tickets to the game and then said it was a mistake. Did they actually fix that or sweep it under the rug?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 13, 2014

      From what I understand, they’re trying to get tickets to another game for every team affected and I think they offered to get them in for a practice too. Can’t remember exactly, but they didn’t just ignore it or sweep it under the rug.

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  19. Sharon
    March 16, 2014

    Word is they booked a jobs fair at UBC for new workers to replace the old workers. They did this back in February!
    From twitter:

    Rod Mickleburgh ‏@rodmickleburgh Mar 14

    #canucks job fair at UBC was booked back in February for “800 part-time workers at Rogers Arena”…current workers found out Monday..shame!

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