Backwash

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.

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36 thoughts on “Backwash

  1. Anonymous

    Many faculty members do make less than the union food workers, by the way. Not just visiting faculty, either.

  2. Anonymous

    Many faculty members do make less than the union food workers, by the way. Not just visiting faculty, either.

  3. Anonymous

    The whole union seems to have this sense of entitlement that they don’t deserve. They make FAR more than anyone else in that industry… and in some cases multiple times as much. Did you hear him say that they have paid $30000 in overtime in one week? This is because they might get paid a very generous $18 an hour, but on top of that if they work over time they get paid time and a half. This can easily double their salary in a year, turning their 38,000 per nine months to nearly 60,000 and up if they work hard enough. And this is what many of them do. Now for many of them having little to no college education this is more than fair, even for CT. On top of that they get FREE HEALTH CARE! This is more than some of our professors, chefs, and other staff… plus they don’t have the option of getting paid overtime. We have other workers who are working 70-80 hour work weeks who are on salary… and when you divide it up it is way less than all of the union workers hourly wage. Now can we really argue that they really deserve such a large hourly wage? Also, if you need 4 more hours to get health insurance… then work 4 more hours. It’s called working! You were lucky you were getting health insurance anyway with those few hours. And don’t even get me started on the janitors eating there for a discount. I don’t want my food prices to go up even more. The reason they can’t eat there is because we pay everyone else too much to begin with. If we didn’t have a union we could be eating for probably 30% less, then we could fed the whole staff if we wanted too… or better yet they could actually afford it! Isn’t that a novel idea! I am all for people getting paid fair, and making a reasonable salary… but I think we can all agree that we have surpassed reasonable and we are venturing into the insane. I am willing to bet that many of us will graduate from here… get a job, and still get paid less than the lady who cleans your dishes at college. Life isn’t fair, and soon we will all realize that.

  4. Anonymous

    The whole union seems to have this sense of entitlement that they don’t deserve. They make FAR more than anyone else in that industry… and in some cases multiple times as much. Did you hear him say that they have paid $30000 in overtime in one week? This is because they might get paid a very generous $18 an hour, but on top of that if they work over time they get paid time and a half. This can easily double their salary in a year, turning their 38,000 per nine months to nearly 60,000 and up if they work hard enough. And this is what many of them do. Now for many of them having little to no college education this is more than fair, even for CT. On top of that they get FREE HEALTH CARE! This is more than some of our professors, chefs, and other staff… plus they don’t have the option of getting paid overtime. We have other workers who are working 70-80 hour work weeks who are on salary… and when you divide it up it is way less than all of the union workers hourly wage. Now can we really argue that they really deserve such a large hourly wage?
    Also, if you need 4 more hours to get health insurance… then work 4 more hours. It’s called working! You were lucky you were getting health insurance anyway with those few hours.
    And don’t even get me started on the janitors eating there for a discount. I don’t want my food prices to go up even more. The reason they can’t eat there is because we pay everyone else too much to begin with. If we didn’t have a union we could be eating for probably 30% less, then we could fed the whole staff if we wanted too… or better yet they could actually afford it!
    Isn’t that a novel idea!

    I am all for people getting paid fair, and making a reasonable salary… but I think we can all agree that we have surpassed reasonable and we are venturing into the insane. I am willing to bet that many of us will graduate from here… get a job, and still get paid less than the lady who cleans your dishes at college. Life isn’t fair, and soon we will all realize that.

  5. Anonymous

    dear 6:18 am anon:i wholeheartedly agree, especially when the cost of paying these workers so much is falling largely on students, many of whom have to take out larger loans because of it. and for those of you who will counter by saying that the cost of the meal plan is not large compared to everything else I’d just like to preemptively counter by saying that though I hate loans I’m ok with taking them out to ensure that I get high quality professors who would be teaching at other schools if their salaries were cut. I’m not ok with taking them out to over-pay food service workers, who will be replaced by similarly skilled workers in the event that they decide to leave because of a paycut. I think its justifiable to pay more when you’re getting more, I’m really not convinced that we’re getting any more by paying union workers such above-market wages.

  6. Anonymous

    dear 6:18 am anon:

    i wholeheartedly agree, especially when the cost of paying these workers so much is falling largely on students, many of whom have to take out larger loans because of it. and for those of you who will counter by saying that the cost of the meal plan is not large compared to everything else I’d just like to preemptively counter by saying that though I hate loans I’m ok with taking them out to ensure that I get high quality professors who would be teaching at other schools if their salaries were cut. I’m not ok with taking them out to over-pay food service workers, who will be replaced by similarly skilled workers in the event that they decide to leave because of a paycut. I think its justifiable to pay more when you’re getting more, I’m really not convinced that we’re getting any more by paying union workers such above-market wages.

  7. Anonymous

    We’re not going to revamp the entire capitalist system on the Wesleyan campus. People who work different types of jobs earn different amounts of money. That is capitalism. We’re all going to college theoretically because we want to learn but really because we’ll earn more money with a degree. It’s ridiculous to think we should try to change that here, and have cafeteria workers earn the same amount as college professors. That’s just not how capitalism works. You may think that sucks, but then go lead a socialist revolution; there’s no reason to start here in particular.

  8. Anonymous

    We’re not going to revamp the entire capitalist system on the Wesleyan campus. People who work different types of jobs earn different amounts of money. That is capitalism. We’re all going to college theoretically because we want to learn but really because we’ll earn more money with a degree. It’s ridiculous to think we should try to change that here, and have cafeteria workers earn the same amount as college professors. That’s just not how capitalism works. You may think that sucks, but then go lead a socialist revolution; there’s no reason to start here in particular.

  9. Anonymous

    this may come too late, but is it possible for a wesleying person (or wesleying community person) to write up a recap of tonight’s WSA meeting for those of us who, for whatever reason, couldn’t attend?

  10. Anonymous

    this may come too late, but is it possible for a wesleying person (or wesleying community person) to write up a recap of tonight’s WSA meeting for those of us who, for whatever reason, couldn’t attend?

  11. Ishuku

    hi anon,it was a series of 2 e-mails from howie and 2 responses from delmar. howie’s 1st e-mail ended “thank you very much and i apologize if…”; the only part i left out was a short introduction thanking delmar in the 2nd e-mail (which is where the 2nd set of questions came from).timeline is august 10th-12th.

  12. Ishuku

    hi anon,

    it was a series of 2 e-mails from howie and 2 responses from delmar. howie’s 1st e-mail ended “thank you very much and i apologize if…”; the only part i left out was a short introduction thanking delmar in the 2nd e-mail (which is where the 2nd set of questions came from).

    timeline is august 10th-12th.

  13. Anonymous

    If that payscale information is right, the Usdan workers are making more per hour than a lot of the professors.Of course there are other perks involved for the professors. but as another poster put it, that is mad money for relatively unskilled labor.

  14. Anonymous

    If that payscale information is right, the Usdan workers are making more per hour than a lot of the professors.

    Of course there are other perks involved for the professors. but as another poster put it, that is mad money for relatively unskilled labor.

  15. Anonymous

    Um, I mean, to be fair, wesleying posted a letter directly from Delmar himself. Another letter from Delmar probably would have been redundant.

  16. Anonymous

    Um, I mean, to be fair, wesleying posted a letter directly from Delmar himself. Another letter from Delmar probably would have been redundant.

  17. Anonymous

    “Is it their fault that we went from Mocon + Davenport (the Grill, grab-n-go, the deli, Vegan Cafe, Burritos!, etc.) to just the Usdan Marketplace and Cafe? I think we know the answer.”God, I miss those places. Were those a part of Aramark? I’m not quite sure how that worked. Wesleyan made a mistake in closing Davenport. The Butts feel even further away from campus now.

  18. Anonymous

    “Is it their fault that we went from Mocon + Davenport (the Grill, grab-n-go, the deli, Vegan Cafe, Burritos!, etc.) to just the Usdan Marketplace and Cafe? I think we know the answer.”

    God, I miss those places. Were those a part of Aramark? I’m not quite sure how that worked. Wesleyan made a mistake in closing Davenport. The Butts feel even further away from campus now.

  19. Anonymous

    I don’t see his response as condescending at all. It is a no-bullshit way of saying that relatively unskilled workers are making mad money that they flat out wouldn’t get elsewhere. Any he didn’t say you had to go to college to deserve that kind of money – he said you have to work HARD and advance yourself. The problem is that they feel entitled to the money because they’ve “earned” it through bargaining. Now they are being asked to make food from scratch, work weekends, etc. Many of them want to work 20 weeks for the industry equivalent of full time pay and great benefits. But those days are seemingly gone, so they are counting on the students to pressure the fuck out of BA to give them all that they desire.Go back and read some of the old posts on this blog – they are spun in such a way that it sounds like the workers lost benefits and positions. Sounds like this letter was written about the time all that shit was flying about. Too bad it got “lost” in the shuffle (though the grilled cheese comment managed to be grossly taken out of context in the Argus – hmmmmmm). It might have provided a little balance to the debate.

  20. Anonymous

    I don’t see his response as condescending at all. It is a no-bullshit way of saying that relatively unskilled workers are making mad money that they flat out wouldn’t get elsewhere. Any he didn’t say you had to go to college to deserve that kind of money – he said you have to work HARD and advance yourself.

    The problem is that they feel entitled to the money because they’ve “earned” it through bargaining. Now they are being asked to make food from scratch, work weekends, etc. Many of them want to work 20 weeks for the industry equivalent of full time pay and great benefits. But those days are seemingly gone, so they are counting on the students to pressure the fuck out of BA to give them all that they desire.

    Go back and read some of the old posts on this blog – they are spun in such a way that it sounds like the workers lost benefits and positions. Sounds like this letter was written about the time all that shit was flying about. Too bad it got “lost” in the shuffle (though the grilled cheese comment managed to be grossly taken out of context in the Argus – hmmmmmm). It might have provided a little balance to the debate.

  21. Anonymous

    Is it their fault that we went from Mocon + Davenport (the Grill, grab-n-go, the deli, Vegan Cafe, Burritos!, etc.) to just the Usdan Marketplace and Cafe? I think we know the answer.

  22. Anonymous

    Is it their fault that we went from Mocon + Davenport (the Grill, grab-n-go, the deli, Vegan Cafe, Burritos!, etc.) to just the Usdan Marketplace and Cafe? I think we know the answer.

  23. Anonymous

    Wait, I’m confused. Is this one long email and one long response, broken up for easy readability? Or did Crim really respond to six differend questions from a student. I’d also like the time context for this exchange (these exchanges). “In August” is fairly nonspecific.And previous anon: BA deserves shit for Usdan just like Iraq got invaded for 9/11.

  24. Anonymous

    Wait, I’m confused. Is this one long email and one long response, broken up for easy readability? Or did Crim really respond to six differend questions from a student. I’d also like the time context for this exchange (these exchanges). “In August” is fairly nonspecific.

    And previous anon: BA deserves shit for Usdan just like Iraq got invaded for 9/11.

  25. Anonymous

    re: the union misleading the student body – someone has been, because I was told that people working under 40 hours weren’t getting full benefits.

  26. Anonymous

    re: the union misleading the student body – someone has been, because I was told that people working under 40 hours weren’t getting full benefits.

  27. Anonymous

    You’re kidding me. There’s noting condescending about what he’s saying. From the way it sounds (which is entirely palpable) these people are very, very well paid ($19/hour plus benefits!). Let’s get real here, if this is all true (and it’s essentially impossible to lie about these things because the truth will come out), BA is bending over backwards and doesn’t deserve shit for this. They do deserve shit for Usdan, but this worker stuff seems unheard of, which is of course a good thing.

  28. Anonymous

    You’re kidding me. There’s noting condescending about what he’s saying. From the way it sounds (which is entirely palpable) these people are very, very well paid ($19/hour plus benefits!). Let’s get real here, if this is all true (and it’s essentially impossible to lie about these things because the truth will come out), BA is bending over backwards and doesn’t deserve shit for this. They do deserve shit for Usdan, but this worker stuff seems unheard of, which is of course a good thing.

  29. Anonymous

    how has the union mislead the student body? i don’t understand. all i see in his answers is a condescending and offensive attitude about how only those with college educations deserve to be paid well.

  30. Anonymous

    how has the union mislead the student body? i don’t understand. all i see in his answers is a condescending and offensive attitude about how only those with college educations deserve to be paid well.

  31. Anonymous

    Interesting. If he isn’t telling the truth, he and BA are going to look really, really bad. If he is telling the truth, that means the union has mislead the student body.

  32. Anonymous

    Interesting. If he isn’t telling the truth, he and BA are going to look really, really bad. If he is telling the truth, that means the union has mislead the student body.

  33. Anonymous

    This makes BA sound pretty reasonable to me. Interesting. Wish I could make the WSA meeting tomorrow night. err, tonight.

  34. Anonymous

    This makes BA sound pretty reasonable to me. Interesting. Wish I could make the WSA meeting tomorrow night. err, tonight.

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