Ongoing discussions between Housing, Dining and Residence Life, workers union Local 77 and Marketplace employees about summer work hours have left dining staff confused and frustrated due to a lack of communication.
Marketplace workers will no longer work during the period between the end of final exams and the start of the first summer session, said Rick Johnson, assistant vice president for housing and dining. This is one of two changes HDRL recently posed to the summer work schedule of Marketplace employees. A policy that would have decreased Marketplace staff during the summer months has been scrapped following a petition and input from workers. HDRL and union representatives are still, however, negotiating how employees’ hours will be changed for the summer sessions.
Marketplace employee Stanley Lyons said that senior employees typically are on a transition crew that cleans and makes adjustments to the Marketplace before summer programming begins.
“Employees were on the payroll last year, and this year there will be no work available for them during this period,” Johnson said. “There were people in the payroll, and this didn’t seem to be the best use of student money, so the question that we have been dealing with is how to best work around that.”
Johnson noted that discussions surrounding how to best handle this roughly two-week interim period, when there is “no meaningful work” for employees, have been going on for three years with Local 77.
“I am not too upset by the changes in work hours for this summer because I could use a vacation sometimes,” said Edward Alston, who has been a Marketplace employee for eight years. “But people are upset because it’s the income that we’re missing.... We all have bills to be paid.”
Negotiations regarding summer hours for Marketplace workers are ongoing. Johnson noted that he could not discuss specifics of the union negotiations. It is unclear whether or not the negotiations apply to all Local 77 workers on campus, who work in dining, housekeeping and facilities management.
Local 77 could not be reached for comment.
Some Marketplace employees said that there has been a lack of communication between dining staff and HDRL throughout this process.
“Nobody from Dining has had an official meeting with [the Marketplace staff] to explain these changes,” Lyons said. “We have been told by the union representatives that these changes are going to happen.”
Johnson said that although he does not believe that there is a disconnect between his office and the dining staff at the Marketplace, there is always room to improve.
“The Marketplace employees rely on the union for most of their communication,” Johnson said. “As is the case with every organization, there can always be better communication in order to work together.”
Johnson met with Marketplace staff to discuss the policies Thursday. Director of Dining Services Robert Coffey said he could not comment until all negotiations are completed.
Vernessa Harrington, who has worked as a Marketplace employee for 14 years, said that HDRL recently notified employees that junior employees would be out of work for the entirety of the summer.
Lyons said the proposed change in the summer workforce was tabled likely due to student input. The original change stated that recently hired staff workers would be employed for nine months instead of 12 months, cutting out the summer for these workers. As a result of these pending changes, Marketplace employees circulated a petition to improve the transparency of this process and help the employees regain work hours.
Alston noted that several students, including freshman men’s basketball player Quinn Cook, have been receptive to the demands of dining staff.
“I was more than happy to support [the dining staff at the Marketplace],” freshman Emelyn Erickson added.
Cook declined to comment.
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