Sodexo employees who work at Pitt began negotiating a new labor contract with the company Wednesday.
32BJ, the local branch of the Service Employees International Union, represents the 230 Sodexo employees who work primarily in Pitt’s two dining halls — Market Central and The Perch — and is negotiating the contract with Sodexo, the multi-national food service company that serves Pitt’s dining halls.
The workers’ current contract expires at the end of the month.
Because collective bargaining began today, 32BJ representative Sam Williamson said he couldn’t give specifics about what the Sodexo employees would request, but said they would seek a contract that “continues to raise wages and protect benefits.”
Currently, Sodexo employees at Pitt make an average of $14.75 per hour and have the option to buy into health care plans and union pension plans, Enrico Dinges, a senior manager and spokesperson for Sodexo, said.
Although Williamson could not comment on the specifics of the negotiation because 32BJ met with Sodexo representatives for the first time on Wednesday, he said the union workers are looking to get a similar contract that allows workers to make around $15 per hour and maintain their health care options.
Because negotiations are ongoing, Dinges said Sodexo could not comment on the specifics of the contract discussions, but said Sodexo was bargaining “in good faith.”
“Sodexo is proud of its partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and the positive impact we have made for the students, faculty, staff and local community,” Dinges said in an email. “Sodexo values all of its employees, including our team at Pitt.”
As the negotiations are between Sodexo and 32BJ, Pitt spokesperson John Fedele said the University would not comment.
Nationally, Williamson said, contracts like the one the Pitt employees have — with an hourly wage that averages around $15 and health care options — are good examples for other service workers looking for higher pay.
“We want a contract that continues to raise wages and protect benefits,” Williamson said. “We’re looking to build on [the current contract].”