Food service union files complaint against Mayo Clinic; Filing alleges conflict of interest

Published 10:19 am Thursday, August 4, 2016

A formal complaint was filed Monday by the union representing food service workers over an alleged conflict of interest in Mayo Clinic’s plan to switch to a new food service vendor, a plan that affects local food service workers.

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 more than 50 employees at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin who were managed by Sodexo.

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Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota filed the grievance Monday that the decision to switch food vendor services was “primarily influenced by food services administrator Carol Gorman,” a press release stated. “The union believes Carol Gorman has a conflict of interest due to a longstanding personal relationship with a Morrison executive.”

The press release stated the grievance was based on Mayo Clinic’s conflict of interest policy from its employee handbook.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley said in the release: “We are angered that Mayo would make a decision like this, one that affects the lives of 700 families in our community, especially now that it appears the decision was made under a cloud of dubious ethics.

“We believe Mayo executives are already aware of the apparent conflict of interest, and we are demanding that Mayo make any initial findings from their investigation immediately. We are calling for Ms. Gorman to be relieved of her duties pending a full investigation and for the decision to outsource workers be revisited in light of this debacle for Mayo.”

In a statement released Monday, Mayo Clinic Health System public affairs specialist Kristyn Jacobson said: “Mayo Clinic is reviewing the grievance claim and will respond as appropriate to the union through the normal process. Regardless of the claim, the decision was beyond the control of any single person. The decision was made by Mayo Clinic management team with input provided from all sites that have a food and nutrition program. Our primary focus is on supporting our food service teams throughout this transition.”

The grievance is part of an ongoing dispute between the SEIU and Mayo Clinic over the change. After the tentative decision was made, Gulley said the 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.”

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

About Sam Wilmes

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

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