Somerset, Somerset Berkley cafeteria workers remain district employees under new contract

Source: Michael Gagne, Herald News, August 19, 2015

The two dozen full- and part-time employees who work in the cafeterias and kitchens in schools throughout the Somerset kindergarten-to-Grade-8 School and Somerset Berkley Regional school districts will remain district and regional district employees — rather than have their positions outsourced to new food service provider Chartwells, which had been awarded the school lunch contracts in both school districts for the upcoming year. … And they did so at a cost, according to AFSCME, Council 93, Local 1701 President Steve Mello. Mello said the employees, whose positions are bakers and cooks, gave up a lot. … The memorandum of agreement signed on June 25, 2015, covers a one-year period, from Sept. 1, 2015 to Aug. 31, 2016. According to its terms, vacation time has been reduced by half for both full-time and part-time employees. Holiday pay for George Washington’s Birthday and Patriot’s Day had also been eliminated. The contract also stipulates that new employees hired on or after Sept. 1, 2015 may earn up to 10 sick days a year, and accrue no more than 20 sick days at any given time. Employees hired prior to Sept. 1, 2015 “will not accrue any additional sick time but will be able to use their existing accrued sick days,” the contract reads. The contract also included a new longevity stipend schedule.

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Somerset cafeteria workers worried about being absorbed by contractor
Source: Taunton Gazette, April 4, 2014

Longtime union cafeteria workers in the Somerset and Somerset Berkley school districts have serious concerns that their jobs could be compromised. Led by Alison Viana and Doreen O’Gara, both Somerset residents who work at Somerset Berkley Regional High School, with 15 and 21 years experience, respectively, half a dozen workers came to address the School Committee on Thursday night. ….. The letter Viana gave to a Herald News reporter and later to the School Committee said, “It has been brought to our attention that the school committees (Somerset K-8 and regional) are still leaning toward an outside source to feed our children. While (Whitson Culinary Group) showed promise when they came to us in January (2013), this is not so at the present time.” That statement was issued after initial contract negotiations between school officials and AFSCME Local 93 on Tuesday, Viana said. … “It didn’t look good,” Viana said of the concept that Whitson, which manages the lunch program at all town and regional schools, could absorb the districts’ public food service work force….

… Furtado said in an interview on Thursday night that there have never been discussions about “letting people go.” However, the School Committee could address the option to have food service workers become a part of Whitson, rather than working for the municipalities. Such a scenario could affect salaries and benefits, including health insurance, vacations and employee seniority…..