Labor union prepares for contract negotiations

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    The local labor union that TCU Sodexo dining workers voted to join last month will have two proposal meetings Wednesday, detailing an agenda for negotiations.

    According to several posts from the TCU Sodexo UFCW Workers’ Facebook page, the meetings will prioritize a list of ideas, suggestions and demands for the union contract negotiation process.

    Employees of Sodexo, TCU’s food service contractor, voted 89-63 to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1000 union on March 24. The union vote campaign came after a series of benefits cuts that took effect this year.

    Abraham Wangnoo, the UFCW labor organizer who led the effort, said the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that oversaw the union representation election, officially certified the election on April 1.

    The meetings will also establish a committee of Sodexo employees to represent themselves during the contract negotiation process.

    “[The workers] are going to nominate and elect a negotiating committee of their coworkers, and they’re going to be part of the negotiating process alongside the local union and the company,” said Wangnoo.

    The establishment of a negotiating committee and the crafting of proposals will come as the UFCW begins to plan its strategy and set up a timeline prior to contract negotiations.

    “We’ll schedule time with the company so we’ll be able to have all of our proposals put together and sit down with the company, and they’re going to have their proposals and start hammering it out,” said Wangnoo.

    The meeting is the first effort to craft proposals that the union and employees will put forth in contract negotiations.

    “We want to make sure we have really good, strong proposals going to the table with Sodexo,” Wangnoo said.

    Wangnoo said the UFCW Local 1000 is reviewing other union contracts around the country to prepare for negotiations.

    “We try to pull as many contracts as we can to see what Sodexo negotiated in the past and what they’ve agreed to in the past,” Wangnoo said.

    Gregory Yost, the senior manager for media relations at Sodexo, wrote in email that Sodexo has built working relationships with more than 30 labor unions through more than 330 collective bargaining agreements.

    “They have a history of actually negotiating contracts,” Wangnoo said. “They have a history of agreeing to worker demands, and they’ve been through it before.”

    The process of negotiating a union contract for university dining services workers can last more than six months, be burdened with delays or even stall altogether.

    This has occurred at universities that contract Sodexo, such as George Washington University in Washington, DC or Rowan University in New Jersey, as well as other private institutions, like at Georgetown University and Brown University, that do not contract with Sodexo.

    Wangnoo said he hopes the process will not stall because of Sodexo’s experience in labor contract negotiations.

    “My anticipation is that it will be relatively fast compared to a company that has multiple locations without a union,” said Wangnoo.

    Labor contracts between Sodexo and university dining services workers, such as contracts at Dillard University in Louisiana, Bryant University in Rhode Island and Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota, cover areas of seniority, safety, sick leave, pensions, raises, grievance procedures and other issues.

     

    Wangnoo said TCU Sodexo employees he has talked to are interested in getting lost vacation/holiday benefits back and establishing a fair evaluation system that determines who gets raises and full-time jobs.

    Wangnoo says he is optimistic heading into the process.

    “For it to be successful, [the workers] have to take ownership of it obviously, and they have been.”

    The meetings will be held at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at a Holiday Inn Express at 4609 Citylake Blvd.