Mayo Clinic, food service employees come to agreement

Published 7:44 pm Friday, January 27, 2017

After a long process, official complaints between Mayo Clinic and union food service employees in Austin, Albert Lea and Rochester have been resolved.

Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota members approved two votes earlier this month.

Union members approved Mayo’s proposal that provided a financial bridge through the end of 2017 in the first vote. The bridge — worth between $3 million and $4.5 million — was provided in exchange for SEIU dropping its grievance and complaint that was filed last fall against Mayo.

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According to the Rochester Post-Bulletin, the second vote saw 2,000 union members grant dietary workers a four-month window of “super seniority” for consideration of returning to jobs at Mayo.

The votes were announced Tuesday and were in connection to Mayo’s plan announced last June to transition its food and nutrition services from Sodexo to Atlanta-based Morrison Healthcare. The change impacts 56 Mayo employees in Albert Lea and Austin who were managed by Sodexo.

Per the agreement, all food service employees will receive similar jobs with Morrison at the same rate of pay and pay range. Employees will not lose tenure and will have vesting in the Mayo-administered pension plan. Benefit credit will reportedly be available for differences in health care insurance costs, and appreciation bonuses will be available for employees who stay through the transition.

Five days of extended illness personal time off will be available, and employees will have full access to earned Mayo retirement benefits for retirement-eligible employees. The employees can also receive all the transition benefits and start with Morrison with their years of service transferred.

The hospital states it will provide support for qualified employees who want to transfer to other jobs at Mayo Clinic.

SEIU President Jamie Gulley said he was disappointed Mayo Clinic was moving forward with subcontracting its food services. He said members were pleased with their accomplishments during the negotiating process, and the union plans to begin negotiations on long-term subjects with Morrison in coming weeks.

“We don’t want to fall off the cliff at the end of the year,” Gulley said.

The union wants union pensions and health insurance plans for the employees instead of a single employer plan, Gulley said.

In a statement following the decision, Mayo Clinic public affairs specialist Kristyn Jacobson said though the decision was in the best interest of patients, the hospital knew it would disappoint food service staff.

“They’re part of our family and have worked hard to serve our patients, visitors and staff,” she said. “We realize change is hard, and that is why we are offering one of the most generous transition packages in the industry.

“We chose food industry expert Morrison Healthcare, which is well-known for offering a positive and growth-oriented work environment.”

Jacobson said the change will benefit patients.

“Morrison has been serving some of the nation’s largest health systems for more than 65 years and leverages culinary, nutritional and operational expertise to provide consistency and transform the health care experience,” she said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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