Last Tuesday over 100 students gathered to fight for the rights of the people we see every time we enter the dining hall, marketplace, and even the library: Sodexo workers. That’s right, the people we see every time we enter the dining hall, marketplace, or even the library are currently being treated unfairly. The average unspecialized Sodexo employee makes approximately $12K a year, without affordable healthcare and retirement benefits.
Let’s first back track and learn a little bit about Sodexo, Binghamton’s, as well as, many other school’s food supplier. It was founded 50 years ago back in 1966 in Marseille, France. The name actually comes from French for Hotel Services Corporation, which is Société d’Exploitation Hotelière. The “h” was removed to make it easier to pronounce.
Sodexo serves a wide audience, ranging from elementary schools to even military bases. They currently generate a revenue of 23 billion dollars annually and the CEO, Michel Landel, makes six million dollars annually.
Students are currently taking initiative about this issue in many ways such as rallying and petitioning throughout campus. The rally on March 8th gathered passionate undergrad and grad students alike to walk around campus and spread awareness. Their act of protest demanded justice to be served to those — well, who serve us.
Sodexo has already been charged with numerous violations of human rights. They have also rejected union proposals for:
- longetivity for members who have been employed for over 5 years
- an attendance bonus for perfect attendance
- implementation of a 401K plan
- the agreement of a 3-year contract
- expansion of shift differential for employees who work off shifts
Sodexo is currently the 18th largest employer worldwide employing nearly half a million people. But with all of these so-called “beneficial” employments, is fair treatment being served? Well, it turns out we’re not the only ones to have conflict with Sodexo. In 2014, Brandeis also protested against Sodexo.
BU Grad student Katie Seeber speaks her opinion on this issue:
“Sodexo employees keep our campus running, at a huge profit for the university. They literally feed us everyday, but it seems BU would rather profit that pay these vital workers fairly. It’s much like how graduate students keep the university running; we do all the grunt work that keeps our ‘R1 research school’ running, but BU is undervaluing and underpaying us too. I feel solidarity in that. I also worked as a waitress for many years, putting myself through school. I know what food service is like, and its the hardest job I’ve ever had. At least I made tips. These folks don’t even make a living wage. Of course I’ll stand up for them.”
Let’s hope justice is served to those who continue to work hard for our food!
Disclaimer: All facts were used with permission from UPSEU Local 1222! Thank you.