After eight months of negotiations, the University’s food service provider in the Marvin Center, Sodexo, signed a new contract with the union representing its employees that prohibits Sodexo from leasing space in J Street to subcontracted vendors.
Subcontracted vendors, under the old terms, did not have to employ unionized workers. The old contract expired in August and employees with the Unite Here Local 25 union and Sodexo have been primarily concerned with future subcontracted venues in their negotiations, said Sam Ramos, Sodexo director of operations at GW. Many J Street employees felt the subcontracted labor, which was not unionized, threatened their solidarity.
The new contract, which expires in 2011, prevents Sodexo from subcontracting any additional venues in the Marvin Center.
“Every new hire has to be a union employee now,” Ramos said.
Five of the 11 Sodexo venues in the Marvin Center – Ya-Ya’s, Freshens, 5th Avenue Deli, WOW Wingery and Wendy’s – are subcontracted out. The roughly 35 employees at these venues are not part of the union.
“That is more than we have ever had in J Street,” said Assistant Director of Campus Support Services Christine Kithcart referring to the number of subcontracted venues.
Unite Here wants to stop the subcontracting as those employees are not unionized, Ramos said. This new clause could deter many national brands from starting operations in J Street. Sodexo employees are provided with a living wage, medical and dental benefits, pensions and vacation time.
“If the union [employees] keep dwindling, then you have no union,” Ramos said. “That is not something people want.”
Unite Here representatives did not return calls for a comment.
Ramos said there are about 75 Sodexo employees represented by the union.