by Brennah Dallaire
Tensions are rising as Central Connecticut State University dining service employees negotiate with Sodexo after a reduction in healthcare benefits and an increase in insurance premiums.
“The company is taking steps to implement a new health care plan that is not as good as the one we currently have while forcing us to pay higher premiums on this new plan,” CCSU Starbucks employee, Samantha Cedeno said.
According to Cedeno, the Local 217 union members are prepared to strike if the issue cannot be resolved through negotiations. The Local 217 union is an organization of workers in the hotel, food service and gaming industries in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Connie Holt, Local 217 union representative could not be reached to comment on the state of negotiations with Sodexo.
Cedeno is leading the charge for better healthcare at an affordable rate for dining service employees on CCSU’s campus. The issue directly effects her livelihood and the medical care of herself and her child.
“Currently our co-pay for a surgical procedure is 75 dollars, under this new plan it would go up to 200 dollars. My son has a medical condition he was born with called CMV…a virus that attacks his brain… doctors estimated he will have 6 more by the end of next year, under the new plan I would have to pay 200 dollars co-pay for each surgery. That is not even including the premiums that will come out of my check every week to pay for this insurance,” Cedeno said.
Sodexo, Quality of Life Services is a food services and facilities management company that manages the dining services offered at CCSU. According to CCSU Dining Services, Sodexo oversees all dining halls including: Memorial Hall, Hilltop Café, The Grille, Sub Connection, Slice of Life, Social Sciences Grab & Go, and Starbucks located in the Elihu Burritt Library.
“This new plan will cause all the food service workers on campus including Hilltop, Memorial, Devils Den, and Starbucks, to face a two to four dollar an hour pay cut. We will no longer have jobs that allow us to live with dignity and some of us will have to look for another part time [job] just to cover this wage decrease,” Cedeno informed.
Sodexo released a statement as follows: “Out of respect for the process, we cannot comment on the on-going discussions, but can share that we are continuing to negotiate in good faith with union leaders and a federal mediator and are hopeful that all open matters will be resolved in a timely and satisfactory manner.”
Food service workers at CCSU are asking for the support of students and faculty until a “fair” contract can be settled, according to flyers passed out at the CCSU Starbucks.
“It is imperative that we get the students and facuilty involved in our fight to secure our jobs and allow us to continue to provide you with the best food service as possible,” Cedono said.