Let us start by giving them kudos for acknowledging the Sodexho food worker protests as the fourth biggest story for 2007.
However this statement could not have been more false:
"In August, Sodexho announced it would raise pay and benefits to be on par with those paid by the university. The increases will add about $2 million in annual costs for dorm residents."As we reported at the time, neither the wages nor the benefits will be on par with those paid by the university.
As we reported in August, the university added $2 million to the pay and benefits for the still outsourced-Sodexho workers. However, it would only cost the university an additional $1.2 million to bring these workers in as full university employees.
In other words, to say that these rates are "on par" with university employees is flat out false. A large amount of the difference is in the benefits package, where workers have to pay out of pocket for their health benefits. This means that from the salary they actually do get, they are having to pay as much of a quarter of their income for health insurance. And health insurance that pales in comparison to the type of coverage they would get as a full university employee.
While this picture has improved over the course of the year as the result of workers organizing, it is still not on par with what a university employee would get for wages, benefits, and other factors. Health coverage costs are now half what they once were with an added monthly stipend for other treatment. However, there is no vision or dental insurance. There are no benefits for those workers who only work 20 hours per week.
The salary comparison is both interesting and misleading as well. The wage increase has brought Sodexho workers within a dollar in most cases of their unionized university counterparts. However even that is somewhat misleading. The Sodexho wage compares with the very bottom of the pay scale for the university employee. However, whereas in most cases the university employee will get as much as a four dollar per hour wage increase during the course of their employment, the Sodexho worker is basically earning a flat wage.
Conditions for Sodexho Workers have certainly improved. This frankly would not have happened without the kind of organizing they did. Anyone who believes unions are irrelevant needs to recognize that these changes did not occur on their own. However, all these workers are asking for is to have the befits of full-time university employees.
it would only take an additional $1.2 million to fully bring in these workers as university employees. That sounds like a lot to the average person but to put this into perspective, this amounts to less than one-quarter of one percent of the operating expenses of the university. That would be like an individual who makes $50,000 having to adjust their budget to include an addition $125 payment. It may not be painless, but it should not break the bank either.
The University has used the issue of balancing student fees with employees wages and yet that is not the only source of money that can be freed up to pay for these expenses. The university continues to give lucrative wages and increases to their upper administration while trying to hold the line on people making very marginal incomes, while at the same time they have structured the pay increase to attempt to directly pit workers against students. It does not have to be that way.
Unfortunately when the public is being told that Sodexho workers have received pay and benefits that are "on par" with those of university employees, they are being told misleading information. It is little wonder that the public thinks this issue has been put to bed.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting