Union urges boycott of state Capitol cafeterias

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UNITE HERE Local 17 called a boycott of Capitol cafeterias after the state of Minnesota awarded the food service contract to a company that won’t recognize the employees’ union and is laying off workers.

Eighteen long-term cafeteria staff were scheduled to lose their jobs Friday, to be replaced by employees of the new contractor, Wayzata-based Taher Inc.

Local 17 has had successive collective bargaining agreements with several different food service providers at the state office buildings since 1958. The three Capitol complex cafeterias are located in the Centennial Building, the Department of Transportation and the 600 Building.

The latest union contract, with ARAMARK, provides a decent living wage, holiday pay, vacation pay and 90 percent employer-paid health benefits for the 18 employees, Local 17 said.

The food service contract was recently put up for bid and the selection made by a committee of eight headed by Department of Adminstration Commissioner Dana Badgerow. ARAMARK lost the bid by 8 points out of 1,000, the union said.

Bruce Taher, CEO of Taher Inc., “has told the union that he would not be operating the cafeterias under a union contract and that the current workforce is welcome to apply, but he plans on bringing in other employees from some of their other accounts,” Local 17 officers said.

“Taher Inc. plans to operate the cafeterias non-union, offering part time work with no health benefits,” the union added.

“Apparently he must feel that he can get away with this since the state did not bother to include any requirements of bidders to pay a living wage, provide any health benefits, much less keep the long term workforce and union contract!”

Local 17 is urging everyone, especially union employees and friends who work in the Capitol complex, to boycott the cafeterias. The union also is urging people to contact Taher at 952-945-0505 or b.taher@taher.com and demand that he rehire the workers, offer real employment and benefits, and stop union busting.