Some 125 non-union workers at the Mayo Clinic are seeking to join their unionized counterparts in SEIU Healthcare Minnesota to take on the health care giant’s plan to contract out their food service jobs.
Their announcement occurred at an informational picket Friday in front of the main Mayo building, where workers, community supporters and elected officials called on administrators to revisit their decision.
“Mayo is a big part of our community and we want to ensure that the patients, the hospital employees and the community are able to be involved in the decision-making processes of this hospital,” said Wes Keck, a food service worker at Mayo for 17 years who is employed by Sodexo. “We stand with the Mayo food service workers and we know they will stand with us going forward because we are stronger together!"
The workers have signed cards, a move that will trigger a National Labor Relations Board-administered election for the group to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The union already represents several hundred food service workers whose jobs could be outsourced to Morrison Healthcare, a multinational corporation based in Atlanta.
The union has been in negotiations with Mayo about the subcontracting, with meetings scheduled Monday and Tuesday of this week.
In August, hundreds of food service workers and supporters picketed in front of St. Marys Hospital in Rochester with calls for Mayo to revisit the decision. Before that a delegation of food service workers delivered a petition signed by over 1,200 Mayo employees to Mayo human resources. SEIU has run multiple, full-page ads in the Rochester Post-Bulletin and workers are wearing “No Subcontracting” buttons.
“The food service workers who Mayo is trying to kick off their payroll have over 5,000 years of experience in food service at Mayo, with many bringing decades of food safety expertise to their jobs,” the union said. “This longevity, which most doubt would be possible with the lower pay and worse health benefits that come with outsourcing, helps to ensure the health and safety of patients across the Mayo system.”
Several legislators, including House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, took part in Friday’s picketing.
“We’re with you,” Thissen told the workers.
“This fight that you are having is all of our fight,” he said. “We see this income inequality growing, we see too many people on the losing end of our economy and what this fight is about is making sure that people are actually getting ahead and have a voice in our economy and shaping their destiny.”
Workers are organizing through unions and other organizations to improve their lives. Union representation provides a voice on the job and the opportunity to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.