The University of Vermont is telling food service giant Sodexo not to proceed with plans to redefine employment status for its UVM workers.
UVM President Tom Sullivan said Friday that the university’s 320 food service workers will see no change in their employment status “until further notice” as UVM looks into the effect on workers’ health care benefits.
Sodexo in September announced that it was redefining full-time employment as an average of 30 hours per week over the course of a year. Some UVM food service employees were concerned that the reclassification might disqualify them from benefits because they work fewer hours in the summer.
Sodexo said in September that it was making the change in response to the federal Affordable Care Act.
In Friday’s memo to the UVM community, Sullivan said the order to delay the Sodexo changes was based on the following factors:
• A very tight timeframe from the date of notification for employees to consider health care options;
• The challenges of accessing accurate and timely information on which to assess available health care options, including enrollment procedures under the Federal Affordable Care Act;
• Uncertainties regarding how soon current health care implementation problems will be resolved;
• The university’s obligation to complete its review of the proposed changes under the contract with Sodexo, including the impact those changes may have for Sodexo employees;
• The timing of the upcoming request for proposal process for dining services that will begin in early 2014 for a new contract beginning July 1, 2015, given that the present contract with Sodexo ends on June 30, 2015.
Sullivan said Sodexo is working with employees to help them understand the changes and their options under the new health care law.
UVM’s faculty applauded Sullivan’s decision Friday.
“We thank President Sullivan for his leadership on this issue, and we hope that he will continue to stand with the Sodexo workers, as they are part of our UVM family,” Denise Youngblood, president of the faculty union, United Academics, said in a statement. “We appreciate the response to our request to not approve the contract, through a petition signed by hundreds of faculty and staff.”
United Academics and the Vermont Fair Food Campaign spearheaded a petition drive at UVM, and the signatures were delivered to Sullivan this week, a news release said.
The release also said the Vermont State Colleges Faculty Federation plans to deliver a similar petition to VSC trustees.