Cafeteria boycott heats up


The company has been receiving e-mails, letters and phone calls from state employees such as Barbara Skoglund, who is boycotting the Taher-operated cafeteria located near the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

“As a daily cafeteria diner I spent between 5-10 dollars a day. So with an average of $7.50 a day you will lose around $50 a week from me or $2,700 a year,” she wrote company CEO Bruce Taher. “I will be encouraging my fellow employees to do the same until you rehire the dismissed employees, offer real employee benefits and stop union busting.”

AFSCME and MAPE, the unions representing 30,000 state workers, are encouraging members to honor a boycott of the cafeterias until they rehire all 18 workers who lost their jobs when Taher took over operation July 1.

Taher also refused to recognize the workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 17, which has represented the cafeteria workers since 1958. The state has changed contractors in the past, but the private companies always recognized the union and retained the workers, the union said.

The Pawlenty administration let the bid for cafeteria operations without including any requirements that the jobs be full-time, pay a living wage or provide health care or other benefits, the union said.

State workers have been given brown bags bearing the slogan “Brown bag boycott” to carry their lunches from home.