By Grace Gottschling
During its general body meeting held at the State House in Trenton, New Jersey, Student Government members heard from Patrice Mendes, the College’s Sodexo general manager, following concerns raised earlier this year over Sodexo’s alleged mistreatment of employees on April 18.
In February, SG began investigating rumors that Sodexo, the College’s dining facilities provider, is mistreating its employees by reducing hours to avoid the legal obligation of providing health care benefits. There were also rumors of a stark racial disparity between employees and management staff.
These concerns had been brought up by the TCNJ Committee on Unity, which was responsible for much of the controversy about the TCNJ Clinic and the renaming of Paul Loser Hall to Trenton Hall last year.
TCU and SG are concerned about low wages, reduced breaks and the lack of an established union for Sodexo employees.
To address the rumors, Mendes spoke to SG members about the policies and procedures Sodexo has in place. Currently, Sodexo has 210 employees at the College who are members of the same union as other local businesses.
Union benefits are granted to the 44 percent of employees who are full time (working an average of 30 hours per week). Employees are granted sick leave and vacation leave requests, as well as personal days, and are approved at different levels depending on the employee’s years of service — some employees earn paid holidays based on how many years they have been with the company. Management staff members are subject to different benefits depending on salary or hourly status.
Full-time Sodexo employees are given 50 dollars toward “safety shoes” and have access to benefits such as health and legal benefits and financial discounts, according to Mendes.
Under their union contract, if an employee works more than five hours, they are entitled to a meal and a 30 minute break.
In a separate meeting with SG members, Mendes, Director of Dining Services Karen Roth and Sean Stallings, the College’s interim associate vice president of student affairs, spoke about Sodexo regulations and demographics of their currently employed staff.
Of the current 210 full-time staff members, 85 percent are African-American and 10 percent are caucasian. About 56 percent of full-time staff members who occupy management positions are female and 44 percent are male, according to meeting minutes provided by SG.