Cafeteria Workers 'Devastated' By Layoffs
Longtime Employees Complain To Board About Loss Of Their Jobs
July 13, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
Joyce R. Beaudoin, her oxygen beside her, walked to the microphone
quickly Tuesday when it was her turn to address the Hartford school
The school cafeteria worker had worked at her post for 30 years
- nearly half her 63 years of life as she pointed out - until she
was laid off without warning. Another 13 lunch ladies just like
her - 10 of them city residents and many with decades of service
- also lost their jobs in late June.
"I can't tell you how devastated we were to get these letters," Beaudoin
said. "Not one of us makes more than $20,000 a year." And
next month, she said, she will lose her work-related insurance
Beaudoin spoke of her dedication
to her job. "No matter how
sick I was, I went to work early so I could get to my job and get
there early to let the kids in."
Joan Sirois described the tasks
she performed in her 23 years. "I
served breakfast and wiped the tables to get ready for lunch. I
got the lunch count from teachers, I opened milk for children and
I opened their mustard and mayonnaise packets. Sometimes I had
to break up a fight. ... Somebody in food service said our jobs
were useless. I didn't feel useless. I felt helpful."
Mark Blumenthal, president of Local 566, the union representing
the workers, said he has tried to get an explanation for the layoffs
but school district administrators won't return his calls or agree
to meet with him.
"Every one of these women has done more than one job in food
service, but there is no such thing as seniority," he said. "These
women are being denied that."
Michael Williams, board vice chairman, said that he had not heard
any talk of layoffs during the budget process and asked school
administrators for an explanation.
Gail Johnson, director of human resources, said the food service
director was reorganizing positions in order to be more efficient.
Most of the workers who received termination notices will land
in different jobs within the school system, she said.
But Blumenthal said the workers shouldn't have to go through the
trauma of losing their jobs and applying for another, similar job
for which they are qualified. Their job descriptions and tasks
can change without forcing them to go through the application process,
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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