Battling Sodexho

by SETH SANDRONSKY

Sodexho food-service workers at University California Davis and social justice groups such as Students Organizing for Change have been busy mobilizing for improved labor conditions. Their goal is for the company,s 500 contracted-out workers to become university employees, represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299.

The university and Sodexho, the French multinational firm, see the matter a bit differently. These two parties, however, have made some concessions to part of Sodexho,s work force in talks which excluded the workers. UC Davis and the company, for example, decided to give non-student (career) workers, about a third of the Davis total, pay raises of $1.00 to $3.00 per hour in mid-October. Hourly wages of student workers, the bulk of employees, stay the same. Meanwhile, a number of career workers who got wage hikes also had their hours cut, said Max Alper, lead organizer for AFSCME Local 3299. The union represents food-service employees at the other nine UC campuses and five medical centers.

In this "win some, lose some situation at UC Davis, the Sodexho food-service workers earning higher wages with lower hours now are hard-pressed to address the problem. The reason for this is simple. They and their student co-workers labor without a union contract in place. Absent a union to represent them in workplace matters of hours and wages with their corporate employer, Sodexho workers are a little like cats without claws in a fight. Thus the plight of being private-sector workers who want union representation brings the Sodexho workers and their allies full circle to the labor conditions that sparked the Davis labor solidarity movement early this year.

In an echo of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the American South, two dozen people sat down in a non-violent civil disobedience rally at a Davis intersection in support of the Sodexho workers this May 1. Police arrested the protesters on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly. Later, the Yolo County DA chose to prosecute them. Pre-trial motions, which include the role of UC Davis in the prosecution of the demonstrators, continue February 4, Alper said.

In the meantime, the company has agreed with UC Davis to pay a greater share of the health-care coverage for the career workers, plus a monthly $100 stipend to help offset their living costs in general, effective January 1, 2008. The union-free UC Davis contract with Sodexho is set to expire in June 2010.

SETH SANDRONSKY lives and writes in Sacramento. He can be reached at: ssandronsky@yahoo.com.


Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire