Bon Appetit relations with workers strained

Bon+Appetit+relations+with+workers+strained

William Gordon

By William Gordon ‘17 and Amelie Yeager ‘16 | Collaborative Writers

Photo by Katie Weeks ‘16

Bon Appetit’s first year at Lafayette is coming to a close and relations between the management and workers are still tense, according to several workers, including one who contacted The Lafayette with complaints.

Employees interviewed agreed they were transferred to different dining locations on campus without their consent and with no opportunity for their input on the management’s decision. Some also requested to remain anonymous for fear of getting fired for talking to the press.

“I’d prefer to just stay in one spot, but you got to do what you got to do to be able to get my hours and be able to get my full paycheck,” one anonymous source said. “So it’s one of those things where I kind of don’t have a choice.

“Some of us are upset because promises were made to us and they weren’t followed through,” the source claimed. “That’s what’s really upsetting most of us.”

Lafayette Dining has 180 employees, which includes Bon Appetit’s staff. Bon Appetit has a five-year contract with Lafayette College with provisions in the contract’s language to extend the agreement further.

Kathy Montoro, a supervisor at Bon Appetit, said she has been working for Lafayette Dinning Services for about 20 years and was moved from Lower Farinon to Marquis at the beginning of this semester.

“I didn’t really want to leave, but they want us to learn different stuff,” Montoro said. She said she loves the students and thinks “it’s always good to give them a good experience.”

Montoro said she could not comment on specific reasons as to why she was transferred to Marquis, since it is “confidential”, though she did cite “management reasons.”

Carol Williams, who works on the front end in Lower, said transferring employees from dining hall to dining hall is not a new phenomenon. Williams, an employee of Lafayette Dining Services for about 16 years, said she was originally in Marquis and was moved to Lower per her request, which the management of Sodexo, the food provider on campus before Bon Appetit, approved.

Although movements of workers between dining halls is not new, Williams said the lack of communication with management is.

“I know [Joel Blice] says he has a swinging door, [but] if you go there he’s got a meeting or he’s not there,” Williams said. “That door swings in, but you don’t stay long.”

Blice, the general manager of Bon Appetit, wrote in an e-mail, “I’m afraid company policy does not permit me to comment with regard to specific employees.

“We sometimes will move our employees between cafés in order to best meet the staffing needs of that café,” said Blice. “We always want to have our employees in an environment where they can be the most successful.”

Adam Laparr, a supervisor in Lower, was moved from Marquis to Lower and had concerns about the move in the beginning.

“I addressed my concerns with management and they put it in a different perspective for me, because at first it bothered me,” Laparr said. “But I have full faith in the company and they have to do what they have to do that’s best for Bon Appetit and what’s best for the college,”

Still, while Williams said she is “very happy” with the current conditions in Lower and loves serving the students, she does believe management has room for improvement.

“I think there are kinks that need to be worked out. I think they need a lot of people skills,” Williams said.

She said the former manager of Lower “had no people skills with us or the students.”

“Everything was ‘we’ll get to it’ or ‘we’ll take care of it’ or ‘don’t worry about it, it’s not your concern,’” Williams said. “It was always shoved off. I feel that’s the way some of the buildings are doing it now…instead of taking care of [the situation] now, they’re pushing it off to the backburner and nothing will ever happen to it.”

Employees of Bon Appetit at Lafayette College are not unionized, but that is not the case with other company venues.

Bon Appetit workers unionized at the University of Pennsylvania in September of 2013, according The Daily Pennsylvanian. This was due to poor working conditions, small raises, and the lack of a grievance procedure, John Preston, the secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 929, the union the Bon Appetit workers joined, said.

“They didn’t have a direct liaison between the employees and the management,” he said.

Associate Vice President of Finance and Business Operations Kari Fazio said she thinks management and the workers here have a strong line of communication.