It has been a year since Whitson’s was awarded the school lunch operation contract with the Shelton Board of Education. In two months it will be a year since I lost a majority of my income security known, my Paid Time Off (PTO). As the most senior employee in the school lunch program I lost just about $2,800.00, 11% of my income! I lost my income security days because this new food service company, Whitsons, has refused to negotiate a contract that includes my previous PTO days (sick, holiday, personal, and vacation days).
Imagine losing 11% of your income through no fault of your own. Imagine the impact of losing thousands of dollars when trying to pay your rent, your utility bills, a car loan, or buying groceries.
I need these days because when I get sick, or when schools are closed for exams, for inclement weather, on holidays, and during school recess, I don’t earn a penny. I work 40 hours per week, but every time the schools are closed, I do not get paid unless I use one of my PTO days.
In contract negotiations, my negotiating team and I have compromised to reach a contract. We have compromised on healthcare, wages, and on paid time off days. Our current proposal to Whitsons is within the company’s own labor costs that they submitted as a bid to the Shelton Board of Ed and were part of the contract that they were awarded to operate the school lunch program. We worked hard to make the numbers work for Whitsons, while also protecting a reasonable amount of PTO days for our income security.
Why won’t Whitsons agree to our proposal? They have said at the negotiating table that they do not want to set precedent. WHAT? They have not shown us that our number are wrong. They are concerned that what they negotiate in Shelton may affect their contracts in other towns??? In other words, my well being is being held hostage to their concern about negotiations in other towns. It just isn’t right.
I say Whitsons negotiate a fair contract with the Shelton Lunch Ladies based on their own bid and respect the ladies of Shelton that feed our children. I work hard every day, I’ve made sacrifices to make my budget work, I’ve given up enough. It’s Whitsons turn to step up.
We agree, the money is there, now it is time to settle.