School cafeteria workers assured of job security

June 17, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

More than 400 workers in Anne Arundel County school cafeterias were told last night that their jobs were not in jeopardy, despite a recent discussion the school system had with Marriott Corp.

More than 100 cafeteria workers, members of Local 1693 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, attended last night's board meeting wearing buttons and carrying signs opposing Marriott. They were joined in packing the room by the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, whose ranks came to press for $3.1 million in compensation for furloughs last year.

The board had not made any budget decisions by late last night.

In recent days, rumors have been rampant that despite being in the midst of contract talks, the board was considering privatizing the food service in county schools, leading hundreds of workers to fear for their jobs.

Tom Kelleher, senior representative of AFSCME Council 67, said the union should be notified whenever any board member discusses labor issues with another organization, such as Marriott. He said the information should be conveyed to the union through the board's labor negotiators.

"Privatization means [union members] would lose their jobs," Mr. Kelleher said.

Board members apologized for upsetting the cafeteria workers and generally praised the food service, which makes about a $200,000-a-year profit for the school system.

Board member Dorothy D. Chaney said she had spoken with Marriott representatives because "we can always look for ways for improvement."

And board member Jo Ann Tollenger said she supported a board member's right to seek other opinions in spending tax dollars.

The board and the AFSCME local signed a contract yesterday that Local 1693 President Jim Pickens described as a status-quo agreement. Although it keeps step increases, it does not include any across-the-board raises for the third year in a row.

The fact that it is a one-year contract also fueled cafeteria workers' suspicions that the board was interested in privatizing the food service. The union had sought a one-year successor clause, which the board refused.

County teachers have a suit pending in federal court in Baltimore over their furloughs, and have said they will drop the matter if the school system gives them the money.

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