Contract negotiations between Sodexo and Local 1038 of the Communication Workers of America ended on March 6, with both sides rejecting their respective proposals.
Negotiations for a new contract have been ongoing since September 2013, and Sodexo has denied eight of the 10 proposals drawn by the 1038 since then, said Union Representative of the Local 1038 of the CWA Clarissa Dobson.
“It takes many rounds until both parties are happy with a deal,” General Manager for Sodexo Tony Hall said. “We don’t want to force anyone into signing anything, and we don’t want to be forced to sign anything either.”
Currently, the employees are operating under a “letter of intent,” Hall said, in which members are working under an extension of the contract until a new one is signed.
Several issues are on the table for discussion including an increase in sick days from the current four-and-a-half to eight.
When asked about Local 1038’s concerns, Hall said that he did not want to go in to detail.
“We are still pretty early in talks,” Hall said.
Dobson said employees have been disciplined for calling out of work when using a sick day. If the employees have enough days, then they shouldn’t be disciplined for taking time, Dobson said.
“The workers have requested that more time be available to them, as well as not being written up for taking their time,” Dobson said.
Employees are also fighting for increased wages, and a progressive discipline system.
The current discipline system consists of four phases with a verbal warning, written warning, final written warning, a suspension of three days and awaiting investigation before termination.
“The workers would like to add two coach counseling sessions prior to the verbal warning, so that employees can make the necessary corrections,” Dobson said.
The talks have resulted in establishing a respect and dignity clause in the new contract framework.
“We wanted to hold Sodexo management accountable for how they treat their employees,” Dobson said. “There’s to be no verbal or physical harassment.”
In response to Sodexo’s treatment of its employees, Hall said that those issues are being taken sincerely.
“We take employee concerns seriously, and we have ways to address grievances through our management,” Hall said. “The employees can all seek out assistance through their union as well.”
The Local 1038 has also voiced that Sodexo is not making it easy to obtain healthcare. Under the first phase of implementation of the Affordable Care Act, employees had to work a minimum of 30 hours per week to receive healthcare.
“What we are noticing is that employees’ hours are getting cut to 28 or 29 hours a week, making them unable to receive healthcare through Sodexo,” Dobson said.
Dobson said Sodexo wants to save money by turning the employees toward the Health Insurance Marketplace, established by the Affordable Care Act.
“If Sodexo would like to save money through healthcare, then they should pay the workers higher wages so that they can afford the plans out of pocket,” Dobson said.
Talks will continue with a public meeting set up on March 31 in the Student Center room 142.
“We will continue in good faith,” Hall said. “We have had good relations with the CWA for the past 11 years, and we don’t think those relations will change.”
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