The College has announced its decision to outsource the management of its maintenance staff to international management and food services corporation Sodexo. The corporation is based in Paris and employs 413,000 workers in 80 countries. The College hired Sodexo to “manage buildings and grounds operations, including supervision of Kenyon’s skilled trades workers, custodians and ground workers,” according to the Kenyon website.
The College’s release states:
Sodexo will hire the supervisors and administrative employees now employed by Kenyon in the maintenance department. Sodexo offers a comprehensive benefits package, and those employees will experience no wage losses.
Dear Kenyon “Community”,
I hope all of you are as sickened by Kenyon’s decision to contract out our jobs to a foreign company with a bad reputation. This company has paid out 100 million dollars in response to lawsuit’s involving sexism and racism since 2005. The skilled trades workers at Kenyon were never approached by Kenyon and asked about cost-saving ideas or concessions. The administration simply waited until June 5th, the very day the workers and supervisors had set up to bargain for a new contract, and it was sprung on us. We are currently exploring our options, but it is sure you will see us marching nearby in the village protesting. Please come out and join us and say “SHAME ON YOU KENYON” and put a stop to this. You and your job may be the next to go.
President, UE Local 712
As alluded to in Smith’s email, both workers and activists have criticized Sodexo’s labor policies. A quick Google search yielded an anti-Sodexo website sponsored and operated by United Students Against Sweathshops (a grassroots student-run organization that works to organize labor-student solidarity in order to achieve sustainable power for workers).
The allegations against Sodexo referenced by Smith in the above all-stu/all-emp refer to a 2005 class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit emerged over allegations that Sodexo had segregated and withheld promotions from black employees. The case settled for $80 million and prompted Sodexo to display its “string of awards for diversity policy,” according to a 2010 article in the New York Times. The company also touted statistics demonstrating five year increases in minority and female employee presence on the front lines, especially noting female prominence in its managerial ranks.
The Thrill has reached out to senior staff members for comment, as well as representatives of the unionized employees whose management is being contracted to Sodexo. Please stay tuned for updates, including more information on Sodexo and the criticism it has received on college campuses in the past.