I am sorting through my Wesleying folder from the summer and early fall, and there are loads of stuff in here that we never got to. To all the people who submitted the past few months and didn’t see their things posted, I’m sorry! We recently figured out a brand-spankin’-new way for people to access the Wesleying g-mail account (before there was some weird thing where reading the e-mail would log you into Holly’s account, especially since Blogger switched to using Google logins), so this should cut down overlooked/double-posted/accidentally deleted e-mails. I hope.
Anyways, I mention this because I found an e-mail correspondence that took place in August between Howie Lempel ’08 and Delmar Crim. If you’re planning to go to the WSA meeting with BA, it might be good to look over. I’ve changed it into a Q&A format to make it easier to read, but this is basically the full text.
First off, you wrote “Everyone over twenty hours per week is eligible for full time benefits.” I was wondering if these are the exact same benefits that these workers would receive if they were working 40 hours a week. For example, is there an employee contribution to workers’ health plans if they are working only 20 hours per week than of they are working 40 hours a week?
The benefits for anyone working over twenty hours per week are exactly the same as someone working thirty five or forty. Again the term employee contribution in not relevant! All health insurance premiums are paid in full by Bon Appetit, actually you, to any worker with hours over twenty hours per week.
Secondly, you wrote “The health insurance is fully paid for by the employer, again almost unheard of. I can, if you would like, provide full details.” I would appreciate very much being provided with any other available details.
The insurance is the best Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that money can buy. There is no better! Also workers are able to opt for the Aetna Gourmet plan if they choose. Both of these plans have very low co-pays etc. I do not have plan summaries, but can provide them in the future when I get back. I have taken two days off and I am in North Carolina visiting my mom before things really get going. I will be absolutely transparent with any compensation questions that you may have. If you would like, you can review a copy of the collective bargaining agreement as well as health plan summaries. These workers are some of the best compensated people in the industry. This is fine with me, but at some point it impacts our ability to purchase food in a socially responsible fashion. High quality food is not cheap nor should it be. Mindless people grabbing the cheapest food that they can get is what has lead us to this situation in China, cheap tainted dairy products, meats and vegetables all produced without a sense of responsibility. Bon Appetit not only promised to maintain the current level of staff we promised to purchase food responsibly.
To be honest someone making almost nineteen dollars an hour plus twenty thousand for benefits is enough to have someone make your grilled cheese. I am sorry that some people no longer get the Monday through Friday jobs that they had. We are open seven days and intend on providing the same quality of service on the weekends as during the week. You pay a lot of money for your meal plan and should get great service and food.
During our meeting with the stewards last week they threatened to go to the student body if they did not get the concessions that they wanted. It is unfortunate they chose not to give the full picture of what is really happening.
Thank you very much and I apologize if you’ve been receiving a barrage of emails.
I do not mind the emails. It gives us a chance to present a more balanced vision of what is really going on. Without the total picture you could possibly be manipulated one way or the other. You might want consider asking some of your friends in other universities about what food service workers are making there. Also ask them about their health insurance. It would be very telling.
1) You write: “You might want consider asking some of your friends in other universities about what food service workers are making there.” I was wondering how compensation, and especially benefit packages, for workers at Wesleyan differ from those for Bon Apetit workers at other schools. Is the benefit package you are now offering different from those your other workers receive?
The workers had the choice of keeping the plan that they had or taking a thousand dollar pay out to switch to Aetna. Most of them stayed with Blue Cross. Both of the benefit packages that we are offering are not offered to any other BA workers at other universities. At most of our accounts there are higher co-pays and the workers usually have to contribute towards the coverage. I thought this level of coverage was gone twenty years ago. Most companies had to switch to a more reasonable package in order to stay in business. I won’t get into too many details because this is their privacy. Here you are footing the bill so you have a right to know how your workers are being treated.
Level of benefits is generally a joint decision between the administration and BA. The hourly rate is approximately six to ten dollars per hour richer than I have seen in other schools. To make this kind of money people usually need to work hard, educate yourself and move up to be a chef, administrator or a manager. Workers doing the same job in Middletown would make between eight and twelve being the very highest with no benefits. Not a good life! We are happy that are team members are doing well though it is I must admit disheartening for them to go to student body with partial information because they don’t get their own way on an issue. Someone mentioned to me on the blog one of hour workers said that there were only three forty hour weeks they did not mention that there were dozens of 37.5 hour jobs. This is how we managed the hours we had to work with. There is a lot of concern about hours of operations not being what students would like. With labor costs being already twenty percent higher than traditional food service we simply cannot afford the labor to staff the facilities extended hours. This is your money and there is only so much of it. Benefits and wages that are out of sync with the rest of the industry are good for the workers, but at the end of the day it is going to affect the food that you eat, the hours that we are open and our ability to be a leader at Wesleyan with sustainable practices.
2) You write: “During our meeting with the stewards last week they threatened to go to the student body if they did not get the concessions that they wanted.” I understand if these negotiations must be kept confidential, but I was wondering what these concessions are.
They wanted the number of Monday through Friday jobs to stay the same, they wanted more twenty hour work weeks “twenty and above get full time benefits” and they did not want us to schedule any full time under forty. Many of the jobs are 37.5 to 40. The negotiations apparently are not confidential. Please ask anything you would like.
Lastly, would you mind if I made this email and any other correspondence between us public? I think your answers to my questions would help to make sure that the student body get a balanced view of this issue.
You may share these correspondences’ if you like. Thank you for asking.