Whitsons responds to lunch lady comments

The following letter was published in response to an article submitted by Local 217 entitled, “Whitson's... The money is there. It is time to settle!

Whitsons is built on a foundation of wholesome foods and strong family values, and has a long history of partnering with school districts to provide innovative food services for their school communities. We operate at many, union as well as non-union, locations where we have harmonious employee relations. Shelton School District contracted with Whitsons at the start of the 2017-18 school year to operate a quality and financially sound nutrition program, which we have done.

Since the start of the SY2017-18:

  • Shelton’s union team members have expected to receive between 39 and 41 days of paid time off (ultimately at taxpayers’ expense since the school district reimburses Whitsons for that cost) for working less than 180 days per year.  That’s 22.77% of their time being paid for doing no work. According to the district, they would have to eliminate 2 teaching positions to pay for this time off. Is this the best way to serve the children of the Shelton community?

  • Whitsons offered to pay up to 21 days off, or 11.66% of the school year.  This is in line not only with Whitsons’ practices for its other employees, but also with surveys of companies conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

  • Whitsons was engaged by the Shelton Public Schools to be a prudent fiscal steward of the child nutrition program, after years of losses by the district.  For the first time in years, since engaging Whitsons, the food service program will break even for SY2017-18. For school year 2018-2019, Whitsons anticipates returning a surplus to the District.

  • When school is not in session and a team member is not working (or not receiving pay), team members can, and do, apply for unemployment benefits.  Ms. Martin’s statement that she is losing 11% of her income is intentionally misleading since she does not take into account the income she receives from unemployment benefits.

  • Ms. Martin may be “working hard every day”, but only for about 180 days (or less) a year.  She and her co-workers cannot expect the same level of benefits as someone who works 365 days a year, especially at taxpayers’ expense.

On June 27, 2017 Shelton’s Board of Education voted to renew Whitsons’ contract for another year and we look forward to continuing to be provide a quality and financially sound program for the benefit of the District, the Shelton community, and the children we serve. By voting to renew the contract, the Shelton Board of Education demonstrated that they support the way we are operating the food service program.