Vermont Fair Food Campaign: A letter to Sodexo management

Editor’s note: This commentary is an open letter to the management of Sodexo written by the Vermont Fair Food Campaign. Concerned students, faculty and Burlington residents are gathering petitions signatures, which will be delivered along with this letter, to the general management of Sodexo at UVM in November.

UVM students, faculty/staff, community groups, labor unions, and Burlington residents are angry about Sodexo’s exploitative practices toward its workers, and have joined together with the Vermont Fair Food Campaign and Students Stand Up! to address this unacceptable conduct.

Not only do a majority of Sodexo employees make unlivable wages (anything less than $12.48/hour, according to the Vermont State Legislature), now this multi-billion-dollar corporation is trying to cut benefits for its employees too.

Sodexo claims it’s being forced to cut employees’ health care, retirement, life insurance, sick leave and vacation time because of the Affordable Healthcare Act. This is completely untrue. Nothing in the new health care law requires any company to stop providing benefits to workers. Sodexo says they’re “redefining” what it means to be “full time” in accordance with the ACA, but the decision to cut benefits is theirs and theirs alone. Sodexo has the ability and the money to continue providing benefits to all employees who currently have them. Sodexo has said it’s taking away employees’ benefits in order to maintain “market competitiveness” — a ridiculous notion considering that Sodexo is the second-largest food service corporation in the world and will make $12.3 billion in profits this year.

Sodexo thinks a small pay increase can make up for everything they’re taking away from its workers — but tell that to the dining hall veteran who stands to lose retirement after 20 years with the company, or to the working parent who will have to lose a day of pay in order to stay home with a sick child.

 

We believe that all people (especially those who make and handle food for a living) should have paid sick days. These proposed cutbacks will mean that Sodexo workers who currently have paid sick days will lose them. It will also strip workers of their vacation time, retirement benefits and other necessities they and their families depend on.

Sodexo thinks a small pay increase can make up for everything they’re taking away from its workers — but tell that to the dining hall veteran who stands to lose retirement after 20 years with the company, or to the working parent who will have to lose a day of pay in order to stay home with a sick child.

Sodexo employees have been told by management that they’re not allowed to talk about these cuts and aren’t even allowed to accept outside literature informing them of their rights! Dining hall managers have even gone so far as to confiscate literature from employees because it contradicted management. Not only are these gross violations of workers’ dignity, they are violations of federal law under the National Labor Relations Act.

Most laughably, Sodexo claims that it “cares about” and is “deeply committed” to its employees. Being committed to employees is NOT paying them poverty wages. Being committed to employees is NOT taking away retirement from people who have worked for you for 10, 15, 20 years (or longer). Caring about employees is NOT denying them health care. Caring about employees is NOT stripping them of sick leave and vacation time. And caring about employees is CERTAINLY NOT silencing them or denying their freedom of speech.

We stand in solidarity with the hard-working employees of Sodexo in opposing these cuts and demand that Sodexo management immediately:

  1. Reverse its unnecessary cutback policy and continue to provide benefits to employees who currently receive them;
  2. Publicly acknowledge the rights of its workers to organize, and inform all employees that they have a legal right to speak out about workplace conditions, to accept information from outside sources, and to make up their own minds about these issues without pressure from management;
  3. Extend paid sick days to all Sodexo employees, whether part-time or full-time. Those of us who make up the students & staff of the UVM community don’t want the hard-working employees who serve us every day to be forced to come to work sick or be penalized because they are ill.

Comment Policy

VTDigger.org requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Be succinct and to the point. If your comment is over 500 words, consider sending a commentary instead.

We personally review and moderate every comment that is posted here. This takes a lot of time; please consider donating to keep the conversation productive and informative.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage a civil discourse among readers who are willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. VTDigger has created a safe zone for readers who wish to engage in a thoughtful discussion on a range of subjects. We hope you join the conversation. If you have questions or concerns about our commenting platform, please review our Commenting FAQ.

Privacy policy
Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Vermont Fair Food Campaign: A letter to Sodexo management"