On Monday April 14, 2008, Davis Mayor Sue Greenwald wrote a letter to UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, making public her “support of Sodexho workers’ requests.”
Greenwald has met with Sodexho workers over the past two years and chose to make her support public now as she and City Councilmember Lamar Heystek have begun taking public actions for a Living Wage City Ordinance.
Mayor Sue Greenwald in a letter to Chancellor Vanderhoef wrote:
“I feel strongly that if the University truly believes in its ‘Principals of Community’ ethic it would treat all of its workers with the respect and equity that they are due.”
She goes on to once again point out that:
“UC Davis is the only UC campus which does not include its food workers as part of its community.”
Mayor Greenwald called on the Chancellor to recognize the Sodexho workers’ requests for the “same benefits and wages as the University food services employees, as well as union representation.”
Meanwhile a Senate Committee on Tuesday approved legislation to ensure that the University of California contracts with responsible businesses and that there is a competitive bidding process every three years. In addition, the University of California (UC) Responsible Contracting Act requires the University to maintain a centralized database of contracts that is available for public review at each campus.
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced the measure as a result of numerous reports of UC’s deficient and non-transparent contract bidding process. It was recently uncovered that a UC Santa Barbara contractor violated wage and hour laws. For more than a decade, UC Davis has failed to put out to a bid contract for food services. In fact, the same food service company has held the contract for over thirty years.
Senator Yee said:
“SB 1596 will ensure that the University contracts with responsible entities, workers are protected, and the taxpayers’ and students’ dollars are being wisely spent. It is imperative that UC has a competitive environment where bidding is fair, transparency and accountable to the people of California.”
Senator Yee in his comments singled out UC Davis:
“It is unacceptable that UC Davis has contracted with the same campus food service company for decades without putting the contract out to bid. The cost to taxpayers and students as a result of this policy is immeasurable.”
According to a Press Release from AFSCME 3299:
“Recently, UC Santa Barbara awarded a low-bid contract to provide painting services on campus. Unfortunately, the contractor declared bankruptcy and the employees were unable to cash their paychecks for painting services they had already provided the University. Wages owed to workers included approximately $90,000. SB 1596 is expected to prevent such events from happening in the future.”
Lakesha Harrison President of AFSCME 3299 said:
“The passage of SB 1596 is crucial to ensuring the fundamental right of the public to have access to information and providing greater oversight of the University. The bill will ensure that questionable practices, like at UC Davis where Sodexo has had the contract with the university for over 3 decades with no competitive bidding in over 10 years, would be put to an end. The bill will also ensure that contractors are responsible so that Californians receive quality services at the best costs.”
While the bill was passed out of committee, it remains a long way from passage into law.
SB 1596 will also ensure competition by requiring all contracts be limited to three years terms and that upon completion of the term, the University shall solicit bids through a competitive bidding process. The would avoid a repeat of what happened with UC Davis in 2004, when the University announced a six year extension with Sodexho at the same time the university announced a multi-million dollar investment in the campus by the same contractor. This despite growing public scrutiny at that time into the food service contract.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting