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Statement regarding campus discussion of labor unions and Sodexo at Earlham College

April 17, 2014

Update: June 09, 2014

The following is a statement from Earlham College President David Dawson regarding campus discussion of labor unions and Sodexo employees: 

Earlham has now negotiated and signed a contract addendum with Sodexo effective June 5, 2014 to provide food service on the Earlham campus. This new contract requires Sodexo to classify their full-time and part-time employees in a manner consistent with Earlham's employment practices. Those persons who work 30 hours or more per week during the academic year will be considered full-time employees for the purpose of determining eligibility for employment benefits.

The Vendor Relations Committee has reviewed Sodexo's employee classification and paid time off practices, along with those of other major food service vendors and Earlham's own practices. The committee has advised that they find Sodexo's practices as defined in this new contract to be consistent with Earlham’s Vendor Relations Principles for ethical treatment of employees and consistent with other major food service vendors. Over the coming year, the Committee will continue to monitor Sodexo’s work for the College with attention to alignment with principles outlined in Earlham’s Vendor Relations Policy. The attachment to this message contains the recommendation from the Vendor Relations Committee that has informed the College's approach to this matter.

All of us who have worked on this issue wish to thank students, faculty and staff for expressing their thoughts forthrightly in a helpful and constructive manner. I am especially grateful for the timely, careful and responsible work of the Earlham Vendor Relations Committee.

— EC —

April 17, 2014

The following is a statement from Earlham College President David Dawson regarding campus discussion of labor unions and Sodexo employees:

The College administration is aware of the interest of some members of the Earlham community in supporting the employees of Sodexo who currently work on our campus, and we recognize and support the right of campus workers to be represented by a labor union. This support has been expressed through numerous conversations, correspondence, and at various campus gatherings.

Sodexo is currently under contract with Earlham to provide food service operation for the campus. Per the terms of the contract with Sodexo, the employees who work for Sodexo work solely for Sodexo, and any terms of employment are at the discretion of Sodexo. That being said, Earlham's engagement with external vendors, including Sodexo, is guided by a set of Vendor Relations Principles (which may be seen on our Website at https://www.earlham.edu/policies-and-handbooks/general/vendor-relations-principles/).

The College is committed to engaging with Sodexo management in light of these Principles through the oversight of the Vendor Relations Sub-Committee of the College Budget Committee. While these Principles do not prescribe specific actions, in recognition of the specific feature of each situation and/or how the situation develops, they "may include writing a letter to the vendor asking it to change its practices or its relations with other parties, monitoring its progress toward such changes, ceasing to do business with it, and publicizing our decision." 

Consistent with federal law, the College supports the rights of the Sodexo employees to choose whether or not they will be represented by a labor union. Also consistent with the law, we support the rights of Sodexo management to express their stance on this matter.

Earlham College was established on the Quaker principles of mutual support, responsibility and accountability and encourages the free and open exchange of opinions on all matters relevant to campus life. As a consequence, out of respect for every member of our community, we ask that all persons continue this exchange without interfering with the normal flow of campus activities.

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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