Category Archives: Food.Services

Senate Meal Supplier Not Banned From Contracts Over Pay Charge

Source: Ben Penn, Daily Labor Report, October 12, 2017 (Subscription required)

The Labor Department won’t ban a Senate cafeteria contractor from government business over charges it didn’t pay workers properly. The DOL settled the case with contractor Restaurant Associates by entering into a compliance agreement with the food service provider, a company spokesman told Bloomberg BNA. The settlement doesn’t include the harsher penalties that had been sought by the Obama administration. A DOL administrative law judge approved the settlement earlier this month, according to an order appearing on the agency website Oct. 12. The company and a DOL regional solicitor’s office agreed that instead of a debarment, Restaurant Associates would abstain from bidding on new federal service contracts for two years, the order states. …

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GAO: Architect of the Capitol’s Oversight of the Senate Food Service Contract
Source: William T. Woods, Government Accountability Office, GAO-17-481R: May 12, 2017

The Architect of the Capitol administers contracts to acquire goods and services for the U.S. Capitol complex. In 2015, questions arose regarding the wages for workers employed by the Senate’s food service contractor. We reviewed the AOC’s oversight of this contract and found that it had considered this contractor’s performance satisfactory in 2015, and extended its contract for another 7 years. However, after the wage issues were identified, the agency enhanced its oversight and required the contractor to provide data on wages paid to its employees.

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Feds Go After Concessions Company That Shorted Senate Workers $1 Million
Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post, December 30, 2016

The Labor Department wants to bar a concessions company from receiving new federal contracts, after the company allegedly stiffed low-wage workers inside the U.S. Senate out of $1 million. In June, the department announced that Restaurant Associates, a subsidiary of the food service conglomerate Compass Group, would repay 674 Senate workers back wages after the company failed to pay employees the prevailing wage under federal law and didn’t compensate employees for all the hours they worked. Restaurant Associates has since paid back the workers. But the department went a step further on Thursday, filing a complaint requesting that the company be forbidden from receiving new contracts for a period of three years. The request will now go before an administrative law judge. If approved, it will only affect future contracts, not the current one at the Senate building, which runs through 2029, according to the Labor Department filing. … According to the Labor Department, Restaurant Associates misclassified workers by putting them in lower job categories, resulting in lower pay. The company said the misclassification was an honest mistake, resulting from “administrative technicalities related to [workers’] evolving day-to-day work responsibilities.” In a statement Friday, Restaurant Associates said it was “surprised and disappointed” that the Labor Department was seeking disbarment: “Restaurant Associates, which had no history of previous [prevailing wage] violations, fully cooperated in the investigation. The company immediately paid all back wages owed and made all changes to pay practices going forward as requested by DOL. … DOL’s decision is unprecedented in these circumstances.” …

US Capitol workers want their voices heard over wage theft
Source: Alba Morales, The Hill, September 20, 2016

Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that U.S. Senate federal contract workers like me had been robbed of over $1 million dollars from our paychecks by our employer, Compass Group. DOL found that Compass had been paying us less than the legal rates for our jobs, had not being paying us proper overtime or even for all the hours we worked, and had not kept proper payroll records. Within weeks, some of my co-workers started receiving as much as $20,000 in back-pay awards. But I only received $240, with no explanation of how it was calculated. I’ve worked at the Senate for over a decade and I believe the company likely stole much more than a couple of hundred bucks from me. And I’m not alone. Over a dozen Senate contract workers received little or no compensation as wage theft victims. Worst of all, neither myself, nor any of these workers were contacted or interviewed by the Labor Department or the Architect of the Capitol, the agency that oversees the contract, as part of the investigation. … The truth is that this is a symptom of a bigger problem: Workers and our representatives have not been invited to participate in the investigation and settlement talks even though we exposed the illegal conduct and are directly impacted by the results. If this were a court case, the victims would have their say, but we are low-wage workers who can’t afford a private attorney. That’s why workers are sending a letter to the Architect of the Capitol and the Department of Labor to request that our voices are respected. For us, respect means a willingness to bring workers into the process. …

House and Senate Restaurants: Current Operations and Issues for Congress
Source: Sarah J. Eckman, Congressional Research Service, August 23, 2016

Those involved with restaurant administration in the House and Senate have often considered how management choices affect operating costs, services available, oversight, and other elements of the restaurant systems. For much of their histories, the House and Senate operated their own restaurants, but since 1994 in the House and since 2008 in the Senate, private vendors have run the restaurants. In August 2015, the House entered an agreement with Sodexo to operate the 17 facilities in the House restaurant system, subject to direction from the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and the Committee on House Administration. In December 2015, the Senate entered a new contract with Restaurant Associates to operate the 12 facilities in the Senate restaurant system, subject to direction from the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) and the Committee on Rules and Administration. … Food and price issues, along with other day-to-day operational issues, including personnel matters, are largely the responsibility of the restaurant contractors. Some Members and observers have raised concerns about the degree of accountability for the House and Senate restaurant contractors, believing that the restaurants’ administration reflects upon Congress and that the restaurants should set an example for other businesses to follow. Although the House and Senate are responsible for restaurant oversight, the delegation of restaurant operations to private contractors means the chambers have less control over employee wages and benefits, procurement, or other business decisions that affect the restaurant systems. …

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Senate Cafeteria Workers Will Receive $1 million in Backpay from Restaurant Associates
Source: Lauren Godles, On Labor, July 26, 2016

Today, the Department of Labor announced today that the Senate cafeteria workers who were illegally denied wages will receive $1 million dollars in backpay from Restaurant Associates (RA) and its subcontractor, Personnel Plus. The money will be split among 674 employees, though DOL did not specify how much particular individuals will receive. … In an official investigation, DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) concluded that RA misclassified the cafeteria workers, in violation of the Service Contract Act. RA was also found to have violated the FLSA. According to the Associated Press, the WHD is considering whether RA should be banned from future government contracts. …

Most Senate cafeteria workers were mistreated on wages, top Capitol official says
Source: Mike DeBonis, Washington Post, March 21, 2016

A majority of the roughly 90 blue-collar restaurant workers serving the U.S. Senate were improperly classified by their private employer, a top U.S. Capitol administrator told a congressional committee last week, putting them at risk of being underpaid and prompting a Labor Department inquiry into the matter. The workers employed by Restaurant Associates have sought higher wages for more than a year, and a December contract renegotiation appeared on its face to deliver better pay and benefits. But several workers said they were subsequently reclassified into new, lower-paying jobs, thus cheating them out of the raise they were expecting. … Ayers’s deputies then interviewed 86 of the cafeteria and restaurant employees. That inquiry determined that 35 employees were classified properly, said Laura Condeluci, a spokeswoman for Ayers; the other 51 were not. Restaurant Associates immediately reclassified 35 of the 51 misclassified workers and delivered back pay, leaving 16 in dispute, Ayers said. Half of those are being resolved through negotiations; the rest have been referred to the U.S. Department of Labor for resolution.

Senate Cooks Say Contractor Dodged Raises
Source: Rhonda Smith, Daily Labor Report, February 1, 2016 (Subscription Required)

The seven-year contract extension between Restaurant Associates and the AOC took effect Dec. 14. As a result, Restaurant Associates increased wage rates for about 80 percent of the 115 employees who work in Dirksen Senate Office Building eateries and in the Senate dining room. In the complaint, signed by attorney George W. Faraday, legal and policy director for Good Jobs Nation, the group said the minimum wage rates to which Compass Group employees at the Senate are legally entitled are established by the federal Service Contract Act for each occupational category. The letter notes that the new wage rates resulted in substantial wage increases for Compass workers classified in the lowest-paid SCA occupational categories, including cashiers, dishwashers and food-service workers. But the federal contractor downgraded various cooks to food-service worker positions, it added, which reduced their hourly wage rate. …

Senate Food Workers Allege ‘Raise Theft’
Source: Bridget Bowman, Roll Call, January 29, 2016

According to the complaint, congressional staff members were told at a Dec. 14 briefing that minimum wages for Level 1 cooks would be raised by $3.65, to $17.45 an hour, and Level 2 cooks would would receive a $5.70 increase to $19.50 an hour. But the complaint alleges several cooks were reclassified as a lower-tier “food service worker,” meaning their wages did not increase as expected. Under the new contract, food service workers’  minimum wage increased to $13.80 per hour. A labor organizer said so far they know of roughly a dozen workers who have had their classification downgraded, even though they still perform the duties of a cook.
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Council urges Univ. of Memphis to decline state outsourcing contract

Source: Michelle Corbet, Memphis Business Journal, September 20, 2017

With the University of Memphis’ next Board of Trustees meeting set for early October, members of the Memphis City Council are asking that the group think twice before opting into the state’s facilities management contract. It’s no secret the University of Memphis plans to opt into the state’s property management contract, said Councilman Martavius Jones, who sponsored a resolution Sept. 19 urging local universities and their administrators to do the opposite. In May, the State of Tennessee entered into a contract with Chicago-based JLL to privatize maintenance, security, janitorial and landscaping services for state-owned public colleges and universities. “Based on my experience on the school board, the quality of the service, the cleanliness and the general morale suffered [when outsourced],” said Jones, who served on the Memphis City Schools Board from 2006 to 2013. …

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Does Outsourcing Some State Jobs Save TN Taxpayers Money?
Source: Local Memphis, August 31, 2017
 
Many Tennessee lawmakers hope to see if outsourcing some state jobs actually saves taxpayers money. It’s been a controversial topic since Governor Bill Haslam began implementing the idea a few years ago.  Questions about outsourcing are always the same. Does it save money and is there accountability?  “There’s… people concerned about state jobs all over Tennessee,” said one protester.  Many state lawmakers have heard and seen the protests about the ongoing outsourcing of state jobs. That’s why a majority of legislators from both parties signed a letter of concern earlier this year to Governor Haslam. The Governor has defended outsourcing state jobs in some areas, especially on state college campuses. …

UT campus workers protest Gov. Haslam’s outsourcing plan
Source: WBIR, August 28, 2017

University of Tennessee Knoxville staff, faculty and students joined local business leaders, state representatives and faith leaders in a demonstration Monday to call on university officials to “opt-out” of Gov. Bill Haslam’s outsourcing plan. The demonstration was organized by United Campus Workers. Last week, a bill to introduce oversight in outsourcing was heard in summer study in the General Assembly. If the university were to “opt-in”, United Campus Workers believe as many as 10,000 facilities jobs, including hundreds in Knoxville, would be outsourced. Those who oppose the plan fear it will result in job loss, loss of oversight and accountability, reduced services and negative consequences for local businesses which provide services to campuses. …

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County may privatize library cafe

Source: CJ Baker, Powell Times, August 3, 2017

After years of subsidizing the Cody library’s cafe with thousands of taxpayer dollars, Park County leaders say it may be time to turn the Biblio Bistro over to a private business. …Over the coming year, the Bistro is projected to lose more than $49,500 — about the same amount it’s lost in the last several years. The consensus reached among the commissioners and library leaders on Tuesday was that the county and library system can no longer afford to subsidize the cafe to that degree. County officials decided to start drafting a request for proposals (RFP), in which private businesses would be invited to submit proposals on how they might use the Biblio Bistro’s space in the Cody library and how much they’d be willing to pay in rent. … Library officials and commissioners will discuss the RFP again at another work session.

School board rejects plan to privatize food services

Source: Christina Daly, Long Beach Herald, July 13, 2017

The Long Beach Board of Education voted 3-2 to reject a plan to privatize the school district’s lunch program that administrators said would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars. At a contentious July 6 meeting, the board rejected a bid by Chartwells, a food- service company, to take over the district’s food operations and help fill a budget gap. School officials said the district lost about $400,000 in food services in each of the past two years due to a lack of student participation in the federally funded National School Lunch Program, which partially reimburses the district for lunches that the agency considers healthy. …

Warning: Trump Administration Wants To Privatize National Park Campsites

Source: James Jimenez, KRWG, July 8, 2017

… U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently announced that he wants to privatize our national park campsites. There are a lot of problems with this—primarily that prices will very likely be raised. Also, there is generally much less accountability when private companies run government programs. It becomes not only more difficult to determine just how our tax dollars are being spent, but there is also more room for subtle forms of discrimination to take place. By definition privatization means an economic focus on the use of public lands rather than a conservation and equity focus. Sec. Zinke’s desire to privatize public campgrounds is just one small symptom of a bigger illness that has this presidential administration in its grip—the illness of commodifying everything and anything that can, in any way, be made to profit someone. …

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As Trump moves to privatize America’s national parks, visitor costs may rise 
Source: Mary Catherine O’Connor, The Guardian, June 25, 2017 

America’s national parks need a staggering $11.5bn worth of overdue road and infrastructure repairs. But with the proposed National Park Service budget slashed by almost $400m, the Trump administration says it will turn to privatizing public park services to address those deferred maintenance costs. … But some public lands advocates are concerned that privatization would drive up costs for visitors and put the egalitarian nature of visiting a park out of reach for some. … If you’ve visited a national park, especially a busy one, such as Yosemite or Grand Canyon, there is a good chance you’ve patronized a private operator. Concessionaires operate a range of services including lodging, restaurants and transportation – ferries to Alcatraz and Liberty islands, for example. All told, the NPS has issued private concession contracts at 100 places within the park system. In recent years, disagreements over park contracts have led to costly lawsuits for the park service. … It would take a tremendous increase in such contracts to generate enough revenue to help the park system. … But despite his bullishness on infrastructure spending, Trump has proposed cutting the NPS budget by nearly $400m, which will force job cuts. …

Amherst TM takes action on elementary schools

Source: Scott Merzbach, Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 4, 2017

Town Meeting unanimously agreed to $15.5 million as the town’s share of a $31.3 million budget for the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools and $22.5 million budget for the elementary schools. … The budgets also include money to bring the food service program back in-house, which Hazzard said will mean better tasting, less processed, more organic and locally sourced foods. …

School board votes down outsourcing custodial services

Source: Chris Ford, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, May 5, 2017

More than two hours into Wednesday evening’s Mat-Su Borough School District’s regular board meeting, the crowd erupted into applause following a vote not to award a more than $4.8 million, three-year contract to NANA Management Services for custodial services. The board heard from about a dozen individuals on potential budget cuts under consideration as the district continues to wrangle with unknown funding sources as its June 30 deadline to approve a balanced budget nears. Privatizing the service was expected to provide of the largest savings in the at least $11 million deficit. But when the question came, the issue failed on a 4-3 vote. …

Petition circling to stop Mat-Su school district from outsourcing custodial, cafeteria positions
Source: Sierra Starks, KTVA Alaska, March 27, 2017

Faced with a $10 million budget deficit, cuts sometimes have to be made beyond the classroom, says Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MSBSD) assistant superintendent Luke Fulp. As a “viable option to help reduce ongoing expenses and financial obligations,” the district is looking to outsource its custodian and nutrition service workers. In February, the MSBSD voted 4 to 3 to move forward with a request for proposal (RFP), calling for companies interested in providing contracted employees. It’s a move Fulp says could save the district up to $4.3 million. And with a $10 million budget deficit, he says the district is “exploring all options, and making sure everything is on the table, especially when it comes to support services, where we could limit the disruption to students.” … But those cuts come at the cost of connections made over the years, says Karen Salisbury, president of the Mat-Su Classified Employees Association, which oversees the borough’s custodians and nutrition workers. … Potential for a flood of new faces in the district’s schools doesn’t sit well with Salisbury, so she’s spearheading an online petition to get the school board to say no to outsourcing when the measure is up for a vote in April. … Meanwhile, the district is moving forward with the process to outsource. An intent-to-award letter was issued to Nana Management Services on Friday, Fulp says. …

Michigan prison food woes drag on

Source: Michael Gerstein, Detroit News, May 10, 2017
 
Food problems continue to plague Michigan prisons in 2017 after Gov. Rick Snyder replaced a previous private vendor over similar issues, state documents show.  Inmates at the Upper Peninsula Kinross Correctional Facility picked through “maggot infested potatoes” to find still-intact spuds for prison meals, according to documents the Lansing-based liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan obtained from the Michigan Department of Corrections through an open records request. … The report shows that the potatoes were discovered less than two months before a costly riot broke out amid prisoners’ complaints about food quality.  “We have had food issues or prisoner complaints at a variety of our prisons. Kinross doesn’t stand out to me as being particularly worse off than any other facilities that have food service there,” said Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections. …

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Prison food vendor in line for $4M contract boost
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, March 30, 2017

Three of the five prison food workers at Cotton Correctional Facility near Jackson walked off the job Wednesday after they were disciplined — the same day a House budget subcommittee approved a $4-million increase for the contractor that hired them, Florida-based Trinity Services Group. Trinity replaced problem-plagued Aramark Correctional Services in September 2015. Though complaints have declined under Trinity, the company has been hit with nearly $2.5 million in contract penalties for inadequate staffing levels and other problems since it took over. … [Corrections Department spokesman Chris] Gautz said that even if the $4 million increase is included in the final 2018 budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, the contract will still be saving the state more than $11 million a year over what it cost to provide the same service with state employees.  But Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director of AFSCME Council 25, which represented the former state prison food workers, said the state’s estimated savings are based, in part, on the cost of unfunded pension liabilities that the state will have to pay, with or without a contractor.  Wednesday’s incident at Cotton is another example of a hidden cost, in which corrections officers have to be taken away from their normal security duties to work in the kitchen, Ciaramitaro said. … Food provided by Trinity — which has not responded to calls or e-mails from the Free Press — was among the complaints cited by inmates at Kinross Correctional Facility in a September disturbance that damaged the Upper Peninsula prison and cost the state nearly $900,000. Gautz said that through the end of December, the Corrections Department had issued 114 “stop orders,” barring from prison property former Trinity employees fired for offenses such as over-familiarity with prisoners or smuggling of contraband. …

Mich. prison contractor fined $2M over service issues
Source: Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News, January 22, 2017

Michigan has fined its new private prison food service contractor more than $2 million for unplanned meal substitutions, delays, staffing shortages and other contract violations since late 2015, the state Department of Corrections confirmed Friday. Florida-based Trinity Food Services signed a three-year, $158 million contract in July 2015 after the state terminated its initial deal with Aramark Correctional Services over problems, including maggots found in kitchen areas and worker sex acts with prisoners. The Trinity fines include roughly $900,000 for meal substitutions, meaning Trinity was not able to provide food items it promised and instead served alternatives. The company was also fined roughly $357,000 for meal service delays and around $356,000 for staffing vacancies. … Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration had fined Aramark $200,000 before ending the contract about two years after the Republican-led Legislature required the state to privatize prison food service in an attempt to save money. The new deal struck with Trinity includes stricter language requiring fines for various violations. The state deducts the fines from its monthly payments to the company…. But critics say the Trinity fines are the latest evidence that contracting out prison food service to private companies has been a bad deal for Michigan, which laid off state workers in hopes of cutting costs. …

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SAVED: School Committee votes to keep nutrition services in-house

Source: Bryan McGonigle, Wicked Local Georgetown, May 4, 2017
 
In a striking twist of irony, Georgetown’s school cafeteria workers spent School Nutrition Employee Week – meant to honor and highlight their value to the community – fighting for their jobs.   … After three hours of discussion and debate, the School Committee unanimously voted to keep the district’s current program and not outsource food services to Whitsons Culinary Group – a national school lunch and catering corporation. … Under the Whitsons proposal, most employees would be invited to stay and work for that company at the same hourly rate. But benefits would only be offered after a 90-day probationary period – meaning employees would have to wait 90 days to get something they currently have.   And benefits would only be offered to full-time employees, with 30 hours a week being the full-time benchmark. Only a couple of employees currently work 30 hours or more, however, so most would not even qualify.  “The jobs they hold now will be gone, and they will be replaced, only with an offer to do the same job for less,” Jim Durkin, representative from the AFSCME Council 93, said to the committee. “Less money, less paid time off, a reduction in retirement benefits through the loss of pension eligibility, and a loss of eligibility for health insurance for them and their kids.” … If improvements aren’t seen and participation doesn’t rise, the committee will likely send out another RFP for outsourcing the program next year.

Saugus School Committee supports privatizing cafeteria staff

Source: Neil Zolot, Wicked Local, April 19, 2017

The School Committee unanimously voted to send a proposal from food service provider Whitsons Culinary Group to the town Purchasing Department officer that includes provisions for privatizing the cafeteria staff.  Bids for a Request for Proposals were due back by March 13 from companies looking to  manage and operate the food service program from this July 1 to June 30, 2018. … After the vote, AFSCME Council 93 Assistant Director of Legislation, Political Action and Communications Molly Maloney told the School Committee members they showed “a complete lack of respect” to the employees and union members.  At the outset of the April 13 meeting, Maloney asked the School Committee to delay approval of the food service contract in order to be able to fully review and process information she provided.  “I have prepared a packet of information for all of you with stories where privatization of food services has failed,” Maloney said. “This is a large packet of information and because AFSCME has not been granted an opportunity to review the bid submission from Whitsons, I am requesting that you delay approval.” …

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Saugus school cafeteria workers concerned about possible privatization of food service program
Source: Mike Gaffney, Saugus Wicked Local, April 6, 2017

As the School Committee prepares to review a request for proposals for the management and operation of the Saugus Public Schools food service program, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union is raising concerns over a potential move to privatize the school cafeteria workers.  Bids were due back by March 13 from companies looking to manage and operate the food service program from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. Whitsons Culinary Group, which currently manages the Saugus Public Schools food service program and oversees 18 cafeteria workers who are school system employees, was the only company to bid for the contract. … Jim Durkin, the director of legislation, political action and communication for AFSCME Council 93, said the union’s concern is that school officials appear to want a private company to take over the entire food service operation — including the workforce.

… Last summer the New England School Development Council completed a review of the district’s food service program that recommended cutting staff, replacing the food service director and instituting new menus as just a few of the strategies to combat waste and increase student participation. … Markland emphasized that nowhere in the report did NESDEC recommend privatizing the cafeteria workers. She also questioned the logic of awarding a bigger contract and more responsibility to a company, Whitsons, that was criticized by NESDEC. … Cafeteria workers in other school districts that privatized the food service program have seen their salaries slashed by as much as 30 percent, Durkin said. … Durkin questioned why the school lunch program is looked at from a profit/loss standpoint when it was established because research shows that students learn better when they have a healthy meal in their stomachs. …