Students want Sodexo out

By on November 1, 2011
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Students recently sent a petition to President Garrison’s office calling for the removal of Sodexo Dining Services from the UAB campus.

William Anderson authored the petition as well as the research that went into its creation.

“When I found out Sodexo was on UAB’s payroll, I looked into the company and discovered their poor history of human rights violation,” said Anderson.

“They are the worst possible place for food services. They are the Wal-Mart of dining services. They are the biggest and easiest to deal with so universities just go to them.”

The petition has been circulating on Facebook and as of this printing 156 people have signed it, the majority of which are UAB students.

“They are very poor on human rights and wages,” said Anderson.

“I just joined United Students Against Sweatshops, who are leading a campaign against Sodexo. They have created extensive reports on the wrongdoings of Sodexo, which is involved in everything that you would think an evil corporation would be involved in,” Anderson added.

UAB is not the only college with campus protests against Sodexo. Some have even filed lawsuits against the company.

Northeastern University recently removed Sodexo from their campus in Boston after a student-led protest.

Ohio State recently had 9 students arrested during a campus protest.

Anderson has said that he hopes protests on UAB’s campus will not need to be aggressive and that UAB will listen intently to their stance against Sodexo.

“Students are not happy with the Dining Dollars and Blazer Bucks. A lot of students are unaware of how things are done for dining services. It’s all so that Sodexo can make profits. I don’t care about Sodexo making a profit, but I do care about being forced into a bad dining experience
with a corrupt company,” said Anderson.

“The workers here at UAB are content but are not exactly happy with the situation.

Internationally it is worse. Things aren’t that bad in the United States. It’s harder to get away with those kinds of things. They use legislation and bribes to get away with their dirty work in the U.S.,” said Anderson.

Recently the USGA passed a resolution in support of Sodexo.

“The USGA has passed a resolution of support with Sodexo. I personally stand with Sodexo and think the protestor’s goals are misguided,” said Brad Watts, the president of the USGA.

“Sodexo pays roughly nine dollars an hour to part time employees. They have a diverse staff and have adapted to students’ needs on campus,” Watts added.

The resolution states that Sodexo at UAB pays their employees $9.87 an hour and that during its six year history on campus it has sought to react to students’ needs and desires on campus and sought to improve the community of Birmingham as a whole with its 14 Commitments for a Better Tomorrow initiative. The resolution states that the USGA feels that Sodexo has adhered to those commitments during it’s time at UAB.

“They have been phenomenal in terms of commitment and engagement with the students. Personally, they have always been responsive to our requests. They responded well to the Student Forum concerns raised by students last semester,” said Watts.

“The protestors concerns about Sodexo internationally do not apply to Sodexo at UAB. They have made a commitment to building an inclusive campus. I don’t have any personal qualms with the protesters but I don’t agree with their aims. I don’t think any of the complaints of the protestors apply to Sodexo at UAB,” said Watts.

Watts is proud of the student voice being heard on campus and the passion of the students involved in the protest.

“Everyone’s voice and opinion can be heard at UAB and we can find a way to do what’s best for UAB. I would like to see an outcome where everyone is improved and all of this comes out for the better,”

Sodexo is responsible for nearly all of the dining services on campus, including Starbucks, Taco Bell and Chik-Fil-A according to Anderson.

“UAB has the chance to take a stand to get Sodexo off of campus and hold them responsible for their actions. That would be huge. UAB is huge. It’s not that hard; look at Samford—they have their own private dining services,” said Anderson of his goal for the protest. He added that it would likely be a long, drawn out process.

“We are organizing against UAB dealing business with such a despicable company. It’s like doing business with the mob while toting how diverse and happy your campus is,” said Anderson.

Anderson addressed the University administration. “I’m really disappointed with the way you are spending my money, you can do a lot better.”

To students he had this to say: “We have to question things. Ask where the money is going; ask why we are using Sodexo. Don’t be scared. This is what you are supposed to do.

“Students have hearts and compassion, when they find out about this stuff they want to change it,” Anderson added.

What do you think about Sodexo? Let us know your thoughts at studentmedia.uab.edu or write in to opinion@insideuab.com.

Alex Headley
Editor in Chief
editor@insideuab.com

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  • Anonymous

    An employee of Sodexo at UAB for over 2 years: I still receive a wage under Sodexo’s averaged $9.87/hr. When I requested a yearly review for my raise, I was informed that they had decided to change their policy to distribute raises in January. This policy applies to all of Sodexo’s workers. Across our service centers throughout UAB’s facilities, we have extreme ethnic polarization and gender hierarchy. Despite attempts to fight for equity in our work place, we are silenced by threat of losing our jobs. Unfortunately, we do not have the liberty to quit our jobs in an economy with rising unemployment rates. Many of the same issues employees and students at UAB witness every day are reflected on a much larger scale by Sodexo’s corporate policies, practices, and investments. It demonstrates a paradigm, or way of thinking, that underlies the company as a whole’s business ethics. It is important that the student community be aware and willing to make a change. It is your money and it should be your decision. We’re not the only university who has decided to take action, and we will not be the last! Let’s make our community a better place to study, work, and live.

  • Farah

    UAB needs to kick out Sodexo now. Being the largest employer in Alabama, UAB should start encouraging local businesses and set an example for others in this state.

  • Elizabeth Casswell

    I have a long-time commitment to human rights, and am adamantly opposed to human rights abuses, oppression, racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, so I admit I am a little biased. I don’t, however, understand backing up a company with wide-spread human rights abuses. Do some research, learn about what they do. There are other campuses that are doing fine without sodexo, there are other options. Even if we are looking just on our own campus (which doesn’t make any sense), no one can tell me those employees are happy. They are miserable, you only have to look at their faces, smile at them and ask them how they are. I mean, a few of them are fine and clearly doing okay, but the vast majority are very clearly miserable (if you look at the anonymous post below, much of it is explained). The food is substandard, the prices are high, and it makes me ill to think of the abuses that my money is paying for. It really doesn’t make any sense to me at all, even if you are best friends with the managers and believe sodexo at UAB is sincere, to not look at the whole picture, and at least do some research into other options for campus dining.

  • Adam

    I would recommend that those for this protest contact Palm Beach Atlantic University. That is my old school and some students there got Sodexo kicked off campus. It was an impressive movement. Hope that helps!

  • Adam

    I would recommend that those for this protest contact Palm Beach Atlantic University. That is my old school and some students there got Sodexo kicked off campus. It was an impressive movement. Hope that helps!

  • Sstrickl

    I absolutely agree that Sodexo needs to go now! I am allergic to dairy, and Sodexo makes me pay for Dining Dollars for food that I can’t even eat–unless I want to eat dry salad every day. I went to Samford for two years, and their dining system is 100% better; Anderson is absolutely right!!

  • Joel

    The food serve by this company is absolutely wonderful and I had great experience eating at this place at UIC. Wonderful employees with some good found at a reasonable price

  • paige peterson

    sedexo works on a kick back system for providing menu items. each facility uses the same contracted food suppliers who provide the food items which they can get the best prices for huge volumn-sales who then in turn contract the same items for the sedexo facilities who then provide the dining facilities with the same or similar items which establishes a process so that each regional manager/purchaser for sedexo gets a ‘bonus’ of an end of year Hawaiian trip so to say, or cash ‘rewards’ or the equivalent for meeting sales goals and cost savings. everyone along the path is rewarded as long as the same items are on constant order. huge food service providers need huge food service suppliers who in turn need consistently low prices from the food ‘makers’. anytime this type of system exists, money is at the root and everyone wants a monthly piece. as i see it this only results in a few getting better off at a cost to the employees and eventually the customers. you gotta pay to play!

    sedexo heirs workers who show the least ability to resist, challenge or cause waves (sic), and retain them at low wages with benefits (which are desperately needed!) with fear of job loss if they deviate from the sedexo policy. so truly motivate and invigorated individuals are de-selected from the beginning resulting in those forced by circumstance to work for less than market labor rates in order to support themselves and their families and significantly lower amounts of innovation for sedexo and the institutions they serve.

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