Mayo reportedly informs union workers of new wage plan

Published 11:01 am Sunday, October 9, 2016

The union representing local food service workers expressed outrage over recent developments in Mayo Clinic’s plan to switch to a new food service vendor, a plan that affects local food service workers.

Mayo Clinic reportedly informed Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota Thursday that it is making employment at current wages with Atlanta-based Morrison Healthcare for union food service workers contingent on the union dropping a grievance concerning what the union deems a possible conflict of interest.

Mayo Clinic announced its tentative decision in June to transition its food and nutrition services from Sodexo to Morrison Healthcare. Mayo informed the union last week that it planned to sign an outsourcing agreement this week.

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

SEIU filed the grievance in August, claiming 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.”

In a press release, SEIU President Jamie Gulley claimed Mayo has not been forthright about the possible conflict of interest.

“Mayo has refused to publicly release any information about the role of Carol Gorman, the executive who was in charge of one of the people at the center of the decision,” Gulley said in the press release.

The union refused to withdraw the grievance, according to Gulley.

“The union fully intends to continue the push for transparency to find out the truth about this decision that is upending the lives of hundreds of Rochester families,” he said. “While still refusing to release this important information publicly, Mayo is now demanding the union withdraw the ethics complaint without any further hearings in order for them to deliver on a basic promise they have been making publicly for months to the 700 food service workers they are planning to outsource.”

In a statement released Thursday, Mayo Clinic Health System public affairs specialist Kristyn Jacobson said Mayo Clinic is negotiating in good faith.

“We respect the bargaining process and will continue to negotiate in good faith,” she said. “Last week, for the first time, SEIU indicated acceptance of the decision to transition food service operations to Morrison Healthcare and offered a proposal regarding the effects of the decision. This week, we gave our first non-comprehensive counter proposal in response

to the union’s proposal last week, recognizing we are still early in the negotiation process.”

Mayo Clinic has dedicated more than two years to finding the best food service solution for patients and their families, Jacobson said, noting a team gathered input from stakeholders in the organization, reviewed options, requested proposals and evaluated potential vendors.

“While we are proud of our hard working food service staff, our current food service model is not meeting the needs of our patients, and our patient satisfaction surveys frequently cite food service as an area for improvement,” she said. “Mayo Clinic is not a culinary expert, and we need a best-in-class partner to refresh and reinvigorate our food service offerings and help bring more clarity and accountability to our food service operations. Our patients and customers expect and deserve better.”

Though Mayo Clinic believes the decision is in the best interest of patients, the hospital knew it would be disappointing to food service staff, Jacobson said. “They’re part of our family, and they work hard every day to serve our patients and staff.”

“We’ve taken great care to ensure that job security is preserved throughout the entire transition,” she said. “The transition package we have offered to employees is by all accounts one of the most generous in the food service industry. That package is available immediately to non-union employees, and through contract negotiations it can be available to the employees represented by unions, as well.”

Jacobson said additional information on the change and benefits being offered to food service employees can be found at

Gulley claimed Mayo Clinic continues to disrespect workers and their families.

“We are unwavering in our belief that Mayo can keep their word and be held to basic standards on both worker fairness and public transparency,” he said. “Mayo can, and must, ensure food service workers and the patients are treated with the fairness and dignity they deserve. There is no reason this should come at the cost of Mayo sharing the truth about what happened in this process as they are required to do through our contract. The fact that they are pitting transparency versus promises they made to treat their dedicated workers fairly as an either/or is a shame and will not be tolerated.”


About Sam Wilmes

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

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