Sodexo labor practices in question
Last spring, a column in the Boston Globe, as well as other articles targeted at specific local institutions, raised concerns about Sodexo’s labor practices. The University had just switched from Aramark to Sodexo as its provider for all on-campus dining services at the beginning of the 2013 to 2014 academic year.
These articles accused Sodexo of using the Affordable Care Act as an excuse to cut employee benefits and purposefully changing the calculation to determine which employees are considered part-time and full-time workers in order to cut benefits.
According to a May 22 Boston Globe column by Shirley Leung, Sodexo officials claimed that the company had to change the way it classified employees because of the Affordable Care Act and therefore now calculate full and part time status on a yearly basis rather than quarterly. This means that many employees no longer count as full-time employees and lose many benefits that they had previously received.
This is because employees now have to meet a minimum number of hours per year, rather than per quarter, to qualify as full-time, making it easier to miss the mark by a small number of hours.
These charges were primarily levied at several local universities, including the University of Massachusetts Boston and Suffolk University.
The May 22 Globe column mentioned a 62-year-old baker at Curry College named Chuck Long who worked 1,450 hours in the 2013 to 2014 year, which was 100 hours short of the yearly minimum imposed by Sodexo to qualify for full-time status under the new system.
“From his $32,000 annual salary, he was paying $420 a month for health care coverage through Sodexo. Not cheap, but out on his own his premium rocketed to more than $1,400 a month,” the column read.
While this has been a largely publicized issue at other schools, in a phone interview with the Justice in June, Residential District Manager for Sodexo Jason Laprade said that similar issues were not present at Brandeis.
He explained that most employees were unionized under the union that represents most Sodexo workers everywhere, UNITE HERE.
“At Brandeis, unionized employees have health benefits through UNITE HERE, which will not change as part of the collective bargaining agreement,” he said.
LaPrade said that the employee contracts will next be renegotiated in June 2016.
LaPrade did not respond to requests for updated comments by press time.
UNITE HERE representatives also did not respond to requests for comment on Sodexo employment practices by press time.