Questions raised on Mayo food service switch

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A local union member has questions about Mayo Clinic’s tentative decision last month to change food service vendors.

Mayo Clinic announced its tentative decision June 30 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.

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Service Employees International Union Union Steward Betty Sime said she and other department employees are concerned about what she called unanswered questions surrounding the transition, such as the future status of their paid time off and life, health and dental insurance.

“We kind of got blindsided by this,” Sime said, noting her concern over the transition, which she called outsourcing.

She said the change will affect 25 employees in the department and two managers, noting that co-workers who currently have Mayo insurance have told her their concerns about how the change will affect them and their families.

She said she hopes Mayo Clinic honors the portion of their union contract on subcontracting that included the stipulation that Mayo Clinic would meet at agreeable times with the union to discuss employee concerns and consider suggestions or alternatives to minimize any impact subcontracting could have for employees.

Steve Waldhoff, associate administrator at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, said all food and nutrition staff employed by Mayo Clinic and those employed by previous vendors will be offered employment at Morrison Healthcare at the employees’ current wages.

He said Mayo Clinic has multiple approaches to food and nutrition services across its campuses, noting he thinks the change will allow the hospital to deliver “consistent and enhanced food and nutrition options to [its] patients, visitors and staff.”

Waldhoff said Mayo Clinic’s focus is on supporting food service teams throughout the transition, which he said will likely take place over 12 to 18 months.

“We realize the importance of food and nutrition as part of the healing process, and we’re pleased to work with Morrison Healthcare to provide an outstanding culinary experience,” he said.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley in a statement derided Mayo Clinic for its decision, claiming SEIU would be “fighting it at every step to ensure that Mayo patients have the best care, the hospital system is recruiting and rewarding the world’s best workforce, and the city of Rochester is a safe and healthy place to live for everyone, not just the executives of Mayo.”

About Sam Wilmes

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

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