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Silver lining for Sodexho staff

Since the announcement on June 20 that their company lost its bid for the new dining services contract, Sodexho staff have turned up for work on campus each day not knowing for how much longer they would have a job.

Some reassurance finally arrived Friday when a letter from bid-winner Aramark was issued to all hourly employees setting up a meeting with an Aramark human-resources team Tuesday to discuss transference issues. According to Amy Truong, Sodexho campus general manager, Sodexho staff will be offered employment with Aramark or the option to continue working for Sodexho. Information on transitional issues, such as length of service and health insurance, will be discussed at the meeting with Aramark.

Sodexho, present on campus since 1974, narrowly lost its bid for the new dining-services contract to vending and food-services company Aramark. Proposals from both companies were considered by an evaluation committee of students, faculty and staff, headed by auxiliary services director Jeff Mack. Since news of the bid defeat was announced, Sodexho staff have been in the dark regarding their future.

Campus View cashier Rashaun Brown, who has worked for Sodexho for two years, said the lack of communication has made things difficult for many Sodexho staff.

“We haven’t had a formal discussion with any of our managers. It’s just hearsay. We’ve asked (the immediate management), and they didn’t know what to tell us. I’ve just been coming in and going with the flow.”

For Truong the priority now is to reassure her staff. She said Sodexho would liaise with Aramark and auxiliary services to ensure employees concerns are addressed.

“We will work very closely with the university and Aramark to have a great (transition) and make sure that every single one of our employees gets taken care of.”

Truong said Sodexho was prepared to offer alternatives to employees not wanting to transfer to Aramark.

“Sodexho will also offer a job for all employees in the local area. (The employee) is the one to make a decision on what they want to do.”

Micky Sines, who works in Campus View and has been with Sodexho for four years, said he did not view a transfer to Aramark as a cause for concern.

“I worked for Aramark for eight years in Iowa; they were all right,” Sines said.

Jeff Mack, director for auxiliary services, said it was between Aramark and Sodexho to resolve employment issues, but he hoped staff wishing to remain at USF would be taken up by Aramark.

“A lot of the employees that work here have been here for 10, 20 years working at USF, and some of those people will want to continue to be here,” said Mack.

The loss of the dining-services contract after so many years at USF was a bombshell for Sodexho.

“We’ve been at the university as a partner for a long, long time. We consider ourselves part of USF. It’s really a shock and a disappointment,” said Truong.

Truong said Sodexho will maintain all existing food services until its contract end date on Aug. 15, scorching rumors of services being closed early as the contract draws to a close. “We’re going to make sure we leave the campus in a professional way,” Truong said.

Mack said that, as far as he is concerned, there should be no loss of service on campus throughout the transition period.

“It is our intent to, at this point, try to fulfill all the facility needs for the summer,” said Mack. “We’re hoping to do (the transition) without (the students) really noticing too much.”

Despite her disappointment at the decision taken by the university, Truong said she hopes the new relationship between Aramark and USF proves to be beneficial for students.

“I wish the university and the students the best of luck. I just want to make sure that the students get taken care of,” said Truong.