Dining Services employee decries talk of unionization

In recent weeks, The Anchor has covered discontent within Dining Services regarding modifications made to the employee eating schedule, as well as a series of small issues under COVID-19 regulations that have negatively impacted some employees’ perceptions of conditions. The Anchor has provided the perspective of Mark Ludwig, who described his desire to institute a workers’ union as a means to collectively bargain with the third-party contractor running dining services at Hope, Creative Dining Services (CDS). We have also published the responses given to us by Jane Newton, the CDS Director of People Services, so as to provide context and a different account of the situation. 

Continued investigation into the story has revealed that Mr. Ludwig’s desire for more significant reforms has been the minority opinion within Dining Services, with a majority of employees not preferring efforts as drastic as unionization. Shortly after publishing the first piece in this series, we received word from Angela Matusiak, a current employee within Dining Services, who wished to share her perspective on the matter of unionization. Below are her unabridged comments, which we received permission to publish, describing her belief that unionization is unfit for, and ultimately hazardous to, the relationship between management and workers within dining.

“An Unsanctioned Employee Response:

‘Wrongs will be righted, if we’re united. Let us Seize the Day!’

Every Labor Day, the soundtrack to ‘Newsies’ rings through my head. From the success of the Newsboys strike of 1899, to the heartbreak of the Lowell Mills Textile Workers strikes, to the success of numerous trade unions in the late 19th century, the labor movement has played an important part in American history and American culture. It cannot be expressed enough how much good collective bargaining has done for our country. It brought us not only higher wages, but better safety regulations. Labor movements gave us the 40 hour work week, and power to the powerless.

Fortunately, I work for a company that already gives me paid vacation time, paid sick pay, paid holidays, quarterly bonuses and free meals. This is almost unheard of in the food service industry for its hourly employees. They also sponsor paid professional development, tuition reimbursement and professional certifications for their employees. When the world fell apart (#therona), this company paid the health insurance premiums for all of their workers that were laid off during quarantine. This is not the sort of company that you would ever associate with the need for a union—hence my confusion when I read the latest issue of the Anchor.

As a longtime employee of Creative Dining Services, I was appalled at the disingenuous portrayal of the union situation. Some of Mr. Ludwig’s complaints were accurate but were already being dealt with directly by management. Others he was mistaken on, such as the break policy and the role of the Safety and Sanitation committee. As far as ‘brewing discontent’ goes, there are maybe half a dozen out of 150+ employees who support Mr. Ludwig’s campaign, but many more who are afraid the false statements he is spreading might galvanize people to jeopardize our current benefits. Bringing in a union creates a blank slate—we will lose everything we currently have, with no guarantee of what the union will be able to negotiate back.

Please do not mistake me for a naive corporate drone. As a former Hope student, former staff writer for The Anchor and forever Phelps Scholar, I speak/have spoken loudly and often against inequality and injustice. As the second favorite cook at the Globe Station (who could compete with MC/Maricruz?), I take great pride in bringing a little piece of home to as many of our students as possible. Representation matters.

In that vein, our representation also matters. The overwhelming majority of my coworkers enjoy the direct relationship we have with management, do not have a problem going through the proper channels of communication and are grateful for our current benefits. We do not need to pay money for an outside organization to come in and speak for us. Perhaps The Anchor could have sought more of our voices instead of focusing on the lonely perspective of a single employee who just finished his first year.”

It is the intention of The Anchor to continue following this story should updates develop. 

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