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September 2, 2010

Sodexo service workers ratify contract

Unionized food service workers at Pitt last month ratified a new three-year contract with Sodexo, the international company that runs food services on the Pittsburgh campus.

The 200 members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ had been working without a contract since a three-year pact expired Feb. 28. About 150 additional non-union Sodexo food service workers at Pitt are not covered by the agreement.

Gabe Morgan, 32BJ SEIU Western Pennsylvania director, stated that the highest-paid union workers will receive a minimum increase of $1.50 per hour over three years; the lowest-paid employees would see a total three-year increase of up to $4 an hour. Morgan said that will bring the pay range to approximately $10-$15 an hour, or about $2 per hour more than the previous contract’s pay range.

Under the new contract, Sodexo also is offering multiple health insurance options at varying rates. The company will pay 90 percent of health care premiums for individual coverage and 80 percent for family coverage, SEIU officials said.

Sodexo USA said that the agreement provides for almost a 12 percent increase in wages over three years while maintaining pension benefits.

Sodexo USA spokesperson Alfred King said in a statement, “Sodexo now looks forward to the beginning of the new school year and continuing to provide excellent service to the students and members of the University of Pittsburgh community.”

Morgan said SEIU is working with the non-union employees to help them get the same benefits that their unionized co-workers will receive under the contract. “We will continue fighting until all Sodexo workers on campus have justice on the job,” he said.

SEIU has charged Sodexo with intimidation and harassment of its employees and in April filed several claims with the National Labor Relations Board, calling for an investigation into the company’s violations of federal labor law, Morgan said. Those charges are pending a decision from the NLRB.

Sodexo spokesperson Monica Zimmer said, “Sodexo cares for its workers and we respect all employees’ rights to unionize or not unionize as they choose.” She added that Sodexo has contracts with more than 300 unions and locals nationwide.

Following an impasse last spring in negotiations on the new contract, the unionized workers walked off their jobs at Market Central and Sutherland Hall’s The Perch on April 26 and remained on strike for three days. (See April 29 University Times.)

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 43 Issue 1

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