Administrators refuse to comment on student movement for Sodexo workers


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Students gather before marching to Sodexo administrative offices in solidarity with food service workers at NU in November. Contract negotiations between the workers’ union and Sodexo are still ongoing despite student pressure.

Rishika Dugyala, Reporter

Administrators declined to comment about the ongoing negotiations between Sodexo and the Northwestern dining hall workers’ union despite a recent student protest.

Robert Buzz Doyle, the Sodexo general manager for campus dining, said he could not speak on the ongoing labor negotiations or the protests by the students, in which they delivered a petition calling for support of workers’ rights. However, he said it was “fantastic that the students love the workers and want to be involved.”

Doyle also said Sodexo and Northwestern Dining are very committed to workforce development and building a diverse as well as inclusive team. Creating a positive working relationship is a priority, Doyle said.

Are there going to be hiccups?” Doyle said. “Yes. But we value all of our employees and Sodexo values this particular contract with Northwestern University.”

Vicky Scheerer (Weinberg ’11) is an organizer with UNITE HERE Local 1, the union negotiating with Sodexo. Scheerer said that although the students do not currently have other events planned on the workers’ behalf, additional negotiation sessions have been scheduled and she hopes a positive agreement will be reached soon.

Director of dining Ken Field also declined to comment on the ongoing negotiations. Field wrote in an email to The Daily that it would not be appropriate for him to give his opinion on the situation while it was still in process.

Weinberg senior Kevin Luong, who was a part of the protests but not the negotiations, said the current situation has not changed much.

The petition, which garnered more than 1,000 signatures, expressed support for measures including increased wages, benefits for part-time employees and a guaranteed 40-hour work week. The petition also raised concerns about disputed reports of disrespect by Sodexo supervisors.

Luong, who helped deliver the petition to the Sodexo office, said he disapproved of the lack of clarity in how Northwestern Dining responded to student concerns.

“I think (the organization of dining at NU) should be something that’s more clearly stated,” Luong said, “especially because these are workers that literally help these students survive every day, and the students should really better know the people that are working for them and the working conditions that they go through.”

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