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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sodexo management must respect employees

Published: October 3, 2014
Section: Opinions

Dear Sodexo General Manager Shawn Monaghan and Sodexo Management,

We, the Brandeis Labor Coalition (BLC), are a group of Brandeis students concerned with the treatment of Sodexo workers on the Brandeis campus. It has come to our attention that the managerial staff actively disrespects workers through public and private intimidation, coercion to do tasks not formally stated in their job classification, paternalistic treatment and decreasing worker hours without prior notice. Managers often bully workers who are most vulnerable. This includes immigrant workers who may not be comfortable communicating in English, accessing support resources within the union or confronting the bureaucratic management infrastructure in order to air their grievances. Workers fear retaliation for speaking out.

Even if workers address abuses with management, their grievances are not acknowledged. Sodexo is required to respond to grievances filed by workers within five days. However, there is a backlog of grievances dating back to April, which clearly communicates that Sodexo is not invested in working with or supporting their employees. This creates a hostile environment where workers are devalued and their legitimate concerns are ignored. By refusing to address the grievances of the workers, higher management enforces a climate of fear for workers and allows abuses to escalate. This unchecked injustice is unacceptable, is immoral and violates the union contract.

Compared to last semester, 288 hours of work per week was cut this semester, which has affected more than 40 Sodexo employees. These cuts were often done without the knowledge of workers, leading to increased stress for those struggling to support themselves and their families. Understaffing forces workers to juggle multiple jobs at once without rest. In some cases, this increased stress has escalated to mental and physical harm.

Students who witness the vile treatment of workers have complained through social media, through email and in person. In light of these deplorable experiences that Sodexo workers have gone through, both seen and unseen, we demand that Sodexo management:

1) Show an active willingness to cooperate with workers.

2) Honor the union contract. This specifically includes responding to workers’ grievances within a five-day period, restoring workers who work above 32 hours to a full 40-hour work week and to stop pressuring workers to do jobs that are not in their job classifications (e.g. forcing cashiers to take out trash, restock and do other jobs specific to ‘GS II’ workers).

3) Treat workers with respect and dignity.

4) Address concerns regarding the rights of new workers who are on probation as well as non-union workers. Remain transparent on work classifications, guarantee proper job training and communicate with new employees about their working place preferences.

5) Prioritize giving hours to good union jobs over hiring temp workers.

BLC will continue to watch how Sodexo treats their workers, beginning with the grievance meeting taking place this upcoming Monday, Oct. 6. We will be in contact with Sodexo workers and union shop stewards to ensure that these issues are addressed.


Brandeis Labor Coalition:
Aaron Goodwin, Andrew Nguyen, Ava Blustein, Cecile Afable, Chris Powloka, Clifton Masdea, David Miller, Elizabeth Chalfin, Gabriel Sullivan, Guy Mika, Gwen Berumen, Jacklyn Long, Julia Blumenthal, Julia Dougherty, Maddie Stroik, Marisa Budlong, Max Close, Mitchell Mankin, Noah Coolidge, Tamar Lyssy, Yijie Zou