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UVM Advocates 'Still Watching' Sodexo Policy Changes

Community and student activists marched through UVM’s Davis Center today in a continuing effort to raise awareness about proposed changes to Sodexo’s benefits policies.

The changes would redefine which workers qualify for full time benefits. While representatives for the multi-national food service corporation has said the changes will keep it in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, critics say it’s a simple cost-cutting move.

Both UVM and Vermont State Colleges invoked a clause in their contracts with Sodexo to delay the policy change until the schools could investigate the issue. Today’s rally, one student said, was an effort to let the UVM administration know they’re not off the hook.

UVM senior Jamie Jackson said UVM’s action was only a short-term fix.

“It’s not a permanent decision,” she said, “so we’re out here today to let them know that we are still watching and we’re still waiting.”

Jackson said the rally demonstrated the continued scrutiny and hoped it would show the administration that they couldn’t make any “back door decisions” that might affect the workers.

Kelly Mangan of the Vermont Fair Food Campaign was at the demonstration alongside students with the “Students Stand Up” group.  She said the proposed policy change would hurt Sodexo workers.

Sodexo employees themselves have told Mangan the changes will hurt them, she said.

“I also don’t know what planet these Sodexo spokespeople are living on that they think that cutting people’s benefits is not going to have a negative effect. That it’s not going to have a negative effect on people to cut their sick leave, cut their vacation time, to cut their life insurance and their short-term disability.”

Mangan said the proposed changes are simply designed to shift a cost that Sodexo has historically been able to manage onto Vermont taxpayers for the sole purpose of increased profits.

“The fact that you have a huge, multi-national, billion-dollar corporation like Sodexo that is saying ‘Even though we provide health care for our employees now and we clearly have the money and means to do so, we’ve decided that we want to push this off onto Vermont taxpayers instead by putting everybody on the public health care system,” Mangan said.

Such a shift, she said, sets a dangerous precedent for other Vermont workers.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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