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Sodexo Workers Fight For Union

Ohio State University concession stand workers are nearing the end of a week-long strike.

The university-contracted workers are employed by the food-service company Sodexo. The company sets-up concession stands at OSU sporting events throughout the year. But this past Saturday, disgruntled employees walked away from their jobs right before the Indiana football game. WOSU reports:

A handful of Sodexo workers on strike took their complaints on tour. With the help of the Service Employees International Union, the workers rented a bus to take them around the neighborhood where many of them live. The stops on the tour included a Hilltop food pantry, and a house where employee Amy Lawhead lives.

Lawhead points out the number of foreclosed homes on her street and she says the low-wages food service workers earn, make the entire community worse off. She's worked at Sodexo for eight years and makes twelve-eighty-seven an hour. The single mom says that's not enough to support her family.

"Not having the money to pay the bills encourages things that you don't want people to ever do. Like crime, selling drugs, prostitution, and all of those things that I see right here on this street in front of my children all the time," Lawhead says.

SEIU spokeswoman Laurie Couch says Sodexo workers want to form a union. She says Sodexo employees are on strike in Atlanta, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

"It needs to be something where all the workers in an industry can bargain for higher standards for everybody, so that the next year things stay a little bit higher and they have just the basic benefits that people need to take care of their families," Couch says.

Sodexo spokesman Alfred King opposes the strikes. He says the SEIU is manipulating Sodexo workers.

"The SEIU is exaggerating the complaints of a small minority of workers in order to try to make false claims about how we run our business and treat our employees," King says.

King says Sodexo supports forming a union, but they want it done by an election. But Couch says the election process takes too much time, during which she says Sodexo can intimidate workers from voting.

Jen Monroe, WOSU News.