The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has reared its head in northern Virginia, inciting protests and instigating with students at George Mason University (GMU). The SEIU has targeted Sodexo, a food and facilities management company. They are responsible for the campus dining facilities.
On April 15, a number of angry workers refused to show up for work, causing closures all over campus. Many of the dining facilities that remained open were understaffed, forcing many employees to work overtime. Only around 70 workers out of over 450 joined the protests.
Spurred on by the SEIU, these workers made frivolous claims about their working conditions. They are attempting to join with the SEIU to help them get higher wages and better benefits. This is part of a nationwide effort against Sodexo. Recently, Danny Glover was arrested protesting them in Maryland.
The SEIU claims that “Sodexo has been suppressing workers seeking to make this choice, which has led to 16 unfair labor practice charges filed in 8 states and spurred worker protests.”
The average wages of a Sodexo employee at GMU is $10.75 an hour, with a minimum wage of $8.50. The average number of years that each employee has worked for Sodexo is 5 years. They pay for about 2/3 of health premiums for their workers.
Loyal Sodexo workers distributed a flier on campus denouncing the SEIU and supporting their employer.
The Administrative Subcommittee on Dining Services, which is a student liaison to the dining administrators fired back against the union aggression with a statement:
There have been several frivolous claims thrown around by some employees that have been incited by the local Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Some dining employees that have teamed up with the SEIU have accused dining administrators…of not listening or responding to their concerns about low wages, a lack of hours, and insufficient benefits. In reality, the workers have never contacted dining administrators to seek help on such matters…
“There have been multiple reports alleging that workers who are in favor of unionization are harassing other co-workers who aren’t on board. This has made for a hostile work environment. This might seem ironic since these employees are accusing dining administrators as the ones harassing them. This can be proven by the recent protests that have turned uncivil and caused public unrest. These protests have disrupted the peace of George Mason University with noise that has affected the academic setting. In addition, several dining employees and SEIU officials left students feeling uneasy entering Southside when these protesters illegally marched into the building, employing scare tactics and intimidation.
“Additionally, it is important to note that there were SEIU photographers running alongside the employees protesting with professional DSLR cameras, turning this into a media fiasco and instigating the situation. They have incited fear and anger during these rallies and have transformed what was once a peaceful protest into an unruly commotion.”
Sodexo also issued a statement:
The SEIU is orchestrating a string of protest activities nationwide as part of its ongoing smear campaign to spread misinformation about Sodexo in an attempt to drive out UNITE HERE and other unions that have historically operated within the food service industry. Most of the participants of these orchestrated events have not been Sodexo employees, but rather students and others who have been incited by SEIU.
“These demonstrations are staged events organized by the SEIU. (For example, the SEIU has publicized that SEIU president Andy Stern will appear in a demonstration at Sodexo headquarters with the objective of being arrested as a bid for media attention.)
“These events, along with half truths and innuendoes distributed through various media outlets, are designed to erode the trust between Sodexo management and its employees and customers.”
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