On Friday, November 9th 2018 when SEIU Local 2007 leaders met with Stanford University at the Labor Management Committee the University had no defined plan or protocol to deal with these dangerous conditions.
The precautionary actions that were recommended did not consider the bargaining unit and their daily tasks. The University wanted to discuss the issue in January. The Union strongly urged management to consider the health of all of the workers on campus that were directly affected by the poor air quality.
Days later the smoke continues to linger and the air quality has reached unhealthy levels. Today, Thursday, November 15th, 2018 LBRE AVP Bob Reidy suspended Grounds Operations at 1:00pm. Workers were sent home with pay for the remainder of the day, all day Friday, and all day Saturday. The department is currently reviewing the exposure of the other remaining groups to determine if their operations can continue safely or if, they too, should be sent home.
The Union will be collaborating with the LBRE Employee Health and Safety to develop future protocols.
So far Bob Reidy is the only University leader that has taken workers’ health and safety into consideration. We commend him for the actions he took today.
R&DE Housing workers have been trying to sort out this confusing “peak operations” calendar with management for MONTHS. Last winter (2017) the affected workers delivered a petition to Michael VanFossen regarding the peak (“blackout”) operations calendar that they had rolled out, without any conversation. The department did address some concerns regarding the vacation policy and even apologized for the manner in which the calendar was rolled out. However, a significant element of the workers’ demands have not been addressed. The contract clearly states that “supervisors will indicate the operational needs of the group in question” (8.2.E). We have interpreted that to mean every supervisor will evaluate the peak work times for their specific work group. As of today, this has not happened. VanFossen has said the MCP has “one heartbeat” and that is his reason for the one operational calendar. We know that each work group is very different and has very different periods of peak activity. Separate peak operation calendars for each work group should reflect that.
The Union has filed a grievance and on September 11, 2018 there was a Step 2 meeting where workers testified to the different operational needs and highlighted the CBA and grievance agreements that supported our position. R&DE management continues to say that there has been no change to their peak operations calendar (aka “blackout”) practice yet, according to Kevin Lortie, a 35+ year employee of Stanford University, there has never been a 12 week “black out” period that has applied to the 9 different work groups in R&DE Housing.
The R&DE Housing workers were not satisfied with the discussion at the step 2 so they decided to take action and march on the boss. On September 12, 2018 these workers delivered a petition demanding that the supervisors meet with the leads of each work group and the shop steward to review the unique operation calendars and create one that reflects the true needs of each work group. Senior Director of R&DE Maintenance Operations and Capital Projects Michael VanFossen, Senior Human Resources Business Partner Rania Perry, and Mark Bernie were in attendance. VanFossen opened the impromptu meeting by saying that there was no need for the “theatrics” and that he hoped we could have a respectful conversation. SEIU Local Member Harry pointed out that we were not theatrical – chanting and marching together is the union way of expressing our views and solidarity on this issue. (I couldn’t have said it better myself!) The hour long meeting included the members expressing their discontent and confusion about the calendar. They asked for transparency, communication, and a consistent message that reaches their direct supervisor. For example, VanFossen refuses to call this “peak operations” calendar a “black out” calendar but when talking to the workers lower level supervisors still refer to it as a “black out” calendar. In fact, they have used this calendar to deny time off requests. VanFossen kept on reiterating that the calendar was an “educational tool” for the managers to start the conversation with their workers about time off requests and high peak work times. This has not been happening.
The University has until the end of September to get us their response to our grievance. If the workers are not satisfied we will be going to arbitration and kicking up the level of actions taken.
Time will tell.
The County of Santa Clara is currently in the process of determining how much Stanford should contribute for housing to mitigate Stanford’s impacts of development under the proposed General Use Permit. We have urged Stanford to build affordable housing on or near campus for service workers. We are working with the county, students, and affordable housing allies to push Stanford to commit to supporting its workforce by creating affordable housing. The county recently voted to direct staff to draft an ordinance with a proposed fee of $68.50 per square foot of academic development, but this number could go up or down depending on the level of community involvement.
There are several upcoming community and county meetings where your voice is critical to pushing Stanford to build affordable housing units. The next meeting to provide input through the Stanford Community Resource Group committee is:
June 14, at 7:00 pm. 1313 Newell Rd. Palo Alto, CA.
Stanford Dining workers have stood up to hold management accountable to their lack of respect and the poor working conditions they have created by paying more attention to the bottom line than the workers that fulfill their mission. Other SEIU Local 2007 members, students, and community allies have also stood up in solidarity to push for the change that is desperately needed. We are not done yet! The Dining Committee has put together an update to their campaign and has laid out their demands to share with our community:
The Sticker Action that took place on January 12th, 2018 and Stanford University’s response caught the attention of KPIX 5. The following video aired on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 15th, 2018.
Keep coming back for more updates!
Show your solidarity, get out and vote Thursday February 1st 7 AM to 5 PM!
- Bon Air Siding Conference Room – 327 Bon Air Siding
- Ricker Dining Hall – The Green Room238 Santa Teresa St.
- Alway Building Computer Lab – M206 300 Pasteur Dr.
- Gerhard Casper Dining Commons (formally Manzanita) – 661 Escondido Rd.
- Training room, building 003
Last month (October 2017) SEIU Local 2007 Food Service Workers told Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) management they have had enough of their delay tactics in addressing the chronic understaffing in the dining halls. Union staff and stewards have been in formal talks with R&DE management for over a year regarding this issue with no movement in the right direction. Bargaining unit members are working side by side with casual and temporary workers for years that have no access to University benefits (i.e. health care/ vacation time/401K) because they are religiously kept under 20 hours per week. Despite the fact that these workers have the experience needed to fill the over 25 vacant positions posted on the University website. To make matters worse, the giant workload placed upon the Food Service Workers is becoming a health and safety issue. Our members have great pride in the service they provide and the students who receive them. This is why they push hard to still meet management’s high demands on their bodies but more and more workers are having to go out on workers’ comp injuries, and short-term or long-term disability. Workers from Lakeside, Ricker, and Manzanita dining halls signed and delivered petitions to demand that R&DE management recognize and appreciate the hard work of its employees, actively promote from within to fill the higher level vacant positions, offer opportunities to the casual and temporary employees currently working in the dining halls, and provide adequate coverage for those out on workers’ comp or disability.
This isn’t the end… this is only the beginning.