by Sophia Contreras
Sodexo Management and headquarters at Central Connecticut State University have failed to provide workers with revised contracts. Instead, employees have had the previous contracts extended, according to Sodexo employees Billy Serrano and Kenneth Caraballo.
A revised contract has been requested since March of 2016. Employees have voiced their dissatisfaction through internal disputes with management, in addition to public and silent protest. Their biggest fears are not knowing whether or not they have jobs in the summer, potential health care benefits, contract violations and stagnant wages, explained Serrano.
“The current collective bargaining agreement at CCSU expires on May 31. Typically, bargaining for a renewal agreement begins about a month or two before the expiration, our labor relations team is currently in discussions with the union representatives to schedule dates to meet and negotiate the renewal agreement,” said John Smalls, managing director of Sodexo.
Discussion for a new contract should be taking place this month, but an official date has not been set. This has made many employees nervous, because until a new agreement is made, they do not know if they will have a job to come back to, explained Caraballo, who has worked for Sodexo for six years.
These concerns derived from an incident this past summer when Sodexo threatened to walk away from their agreement with CCSU, and employees were going to be left without a secure job with short notice, explained Serrano.
Through a series of disputes, protests, phone calls and emails, employees have expressed their concerns. They have worn stickers on their uniforms that say “I support food service workers, unite local 217,” their labor union number.
Sodexo management at CCSU has acknowledged the employees’ protest and concerns but have not taken the employees request to the necessary higher-ups, explained Serrano.
“They [management] want to stop hearing the noise and we respect that they have a business to run, but we have families we have to take care of as well,” said Serrano.
Employees also feel their contract has been violated, by management not respecting certain protocols such as grievance procedures and applying favoritism over seniority, explained Caraballo.
“When we have an issue with management we fill out paperwork and we are able mediate the issue. However, they haven’t followed the certain guidelines that we have, and favoritism within the company is very present when it comes to some of these guidelines outlined in the contract,” said Carabello.
“There are rumors that they want to switch us from plan A to plan B, because it’s cheaper for the company,” said Carabello.
The majority of employees haven’t seen a raise in two years either, according to Caraballo. They feel that, as union members, they have a right to voice their concerns.
“Right now we have a voice, so by us not having a contract it would destroy the little guy and take away our voice. A lot of us have families that depend on our health insurance, so by reducing our plans, a lot of lives outside of the employees will also be affected,” said Carabello.
Serrano and Caraballo expressed the love they have for their job, and how much they enjoy serving the students of CCSU. “We really do appreciate the support we get from the students workers, and the students who ask us about our silent protest. We just hope they’ll stand with us in our concern for a new contract,” said Serrano.