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Fired Cafeteria Worker Reinstated After UM Student Uproar

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Students at the University of Miami rallied to save the job of beloved dining hall worker known as "Miss Betty". (CBS4)

Students at the University of Miami rallied to save the job of beloved dining hall worker known as “Miss Betty”. (CBS4)

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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – A University of Miami cafeteria cashier says she’s been given a second chance. Betty Asbury, affectionately known as “Miss Betty”  will go back to work at the cafeteria Wednesday, October 31st.

University of Miami  students rallied last week to support her saying she was unjustly fired. The kids at UM, they supported me, they stood with me, I never was alone,” said Asbury.

Chartwells, a division of Compass Group, is the food service company that employed her. The company completed a review after Asbury’s termination and delivered a letter Monday telling her she would be able to go back to work.

Asbury says she’ll receive the same pay rate and back pay, but she does not know how many hours she’ll work or what position she’ll have.  She says she’s sure the students who supported her will come see her even if she isn’t a cashier.

“I won’t be in the same position, but they’ll find me, they’ll find me,” she said.

Asbury was fired from her job as a cashier at the Hecht/Stanford Dining Hall on October 10th after a man walked past her without paying the required $6.80 for breakfast, she said.

According to Asbury, she did not see the man as she was ringing up another customer.

“I said please, I made a human mistake by overlooking someone and letting them in,” Asbury said.

The UM students rallying on her behalf  demanded that Chartwell’s rehire Miss Betty.

Asbury loved her job and said when she was fired, she not only lost her job, she lost a family.

The signatures were gathered through a petition started on Change.org by grad student Philipp Schwind.

“The men and women who feed us should be treated better than this,” said Schwind. “Betty was one of the people who made the University of Miami community a better place, and I’m proud to see that thousands of students, alumni, parents, faculty and others are rallying to support her.”

This rally is one of many events that has been organized by STAND (Students Toward a New Democracy) to bring Betty back. STAND is a grassroots student organization at UM that deals with issues of social justice.  They have been supporting workers in their attempts to form a union at the University of Miami.

“What happened to Miss Betty can happen to any Chartwells worker at any time, these workers have no job security and no voice on the job, they know that and that is why they have been trying to form a union so that they can have respect and dignity on the job, so that what happened to Miss Betty doesn’t happen again,” said Javier Figueroa a member of STAND.

In a statement released by Chartwells, the company said “Employment decisions are based on established policies and procedures and applicable state and federal employment laws. Based on our understanding of the facts, it does not appear that the former employee has provided complete information to the community.”

The statement went on, “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.”

Chartwells also said it 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.”

Asbury had been working as a cashier for Chartwells for two years and had received very high evaluations before the incident, she has been a member of the UM community for even longer as her son played basketball for the Hurricanes in 2006.

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