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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

City Eats and Bricks employees win higher wages in new contract

With the help of Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West and students, Sodexo employees approve tentative agreement
A+City+Eats+employee+votes+on+the+decision+to+ratify+a+new+wage+contract+near+Mary+Ward+Hall+on+April+3%2C+2024.+%28Neal+Wong+%2F+Golden+Gate+Xpress%29
Neal Wong
A City Eats employee votes on the decision to ratify a new wage contract near Mary Ward Hall on April 3, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress)

With tension thick in the air, City Eats and Bricks employees trickled outside Mary Ward Hall on April 3 to vote on a proposed tentative agreement between Sodexo and SEIU-USWW. Over two hours of whispers and folded papers, ballot boxes filled with responses from Sodexo employees. The tentative agreement was approved nearly unanimously, instituting a new contract.

The agreement, which has been under negotiation since October 2023, was ratified on April 3 after overcoming disagreements surrounding paid vacation time and the increase in wages.

Catherine Calasanz, a cashier at City Eats and a member of the bargaining team, attributes the ratification’s success to the students who supported it.

“[I’m] ecstatic. Very, very happy,” Calasanz said. “I know we wouldn’t be able to do this without the help of the students; it’s them who moved everything for us to get this contract. I will be forever grateful for them. If the [students] need our help, let’s lift each other up.”

 Susana Elep, a cashier, food service vendor and barista for Bricks, agreed with Calasanz’s sentiments. 

“We never thought that they would support us like that,” said Elep, who is also on the bargaining team. “It’s really overwhelming and we are just so very joyful — especially that march that day. Oh, my god, I really want to dance all the way because I’m so happy.” 

The new contract is part of a three-year agreement that will come into effect in October 2023 and last until September 2026. Since negotiations have been ongoing since October last year, employees will be given retroactive pay, which is compensation for work done prior to the tentative agreement. 

One of the biggest benefits was the wage increase of $1.55 an hour for the contract duration. This was also the most contested item in the new contract and contributed to the delay of the agreement being finalized, prompting Sodexo employees to seek help from student organizations.

“Everything that we got is economics because everything costs money for the company,” said Eugenia Gutierrez, coordinator of SEIU-USWW. “But the biggest issue was the vacation, making it four weeks for everyone with 15 years [of working at Sodexo] and the wages.” 

Madison Wise, a SEIU-USWW union representative, was a main contributor to the bargaining table and helped coordinate action on campus. 

(L-R) Madison Wise, Catherine Calasanz, Eugenia Gutierrez, Rebecca Mora and Susana Elep count votes in the Bricks restaurant on April 3, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

According to Wise, a shift lead position was introduced in the Fall 2023 semester but with no added compensation, the new contract outlined an added dollar to their salaries. Wise says there was also a wage difference of 50 cents an hour for night shift workers, mostly benefiting those in Bricks, who work between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Other benefits include transparency for summer work, which would require the employer to make available the work hours one week before starting the summer session. An extra floating holiday — meaning a day for which employees can choose a paid day off — will come into effect in the second year of the contract.

A contentious issue resolved by the new contract was the expansion of paid vacation time.

If an employee has been working for one year, they receive one week of paid vacation. Those employed for two years are granted two weeks of vacation and three weeks after five years. The addition was to grant employees with seniority, meaning 15-plus years, four weeks of paid vacation time, which was not allowed under the previous employment contract. The modified vacation time will be available in October 2025.

Also,  language was added concerning new uniform benefits. In the second and third years of the contract, the company will provide each active employee with a $25 uniform-pant allowance and a $75 shoe allowance.

“For us [SEIU-USWW], we go from campaign to campaign, so every single one is unique,” Gutierrez said. “But I think that, by far, the leadership that this group exercised throughout the whole process was pretty awesome. This is the very first time that we got involvement from other unions and students and that shows. It’s a testament to the organizing that needed to happen.” 

While almost all members voted yes on the ratification, a few people voted no. Wise explained that some employees were hesitant to agree because they lost two months of retroactive pay that was supposed to be given to employees in October but was ultimately dated back to November.

After six months of ongoing negotiations, the union representatives and a majority of Sodexo employees are content with the new contract. However, according to Wise, this is only the beginning. 

“This is probably the most rewarding part — is holding actions, getting the contract settled; that’s incredibly rewarding,” Wise said. “The fun part is making sure management sticks to their word.”

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About the Contributors
Cami Dominguez
Cami Dominguez, Staff Reporter
Cami Dominguez (they/them) is a staff reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. They are majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. Cami has long had an interest in politics and, thus, local and grass-roots organizing. Born and raised in San Diego, California, they have previously been a staff writer in high school for Pulse Magazine, Canyon Crest Academy's publication. In their free time, they love binge-watching shows they have watched before, hyper-curating specific Spotify playlists, and snuggling up with any Sally Rooney book.
Neal Wong
Neal Wong, Co-Copy Editor
Neal Wong (he/him) is a third-year journalism student and minoring in urban studies and planning. He was born and raised in San Francisco and attended Washington High School. He has photographed and written for Golden Gate Xpress first as a contributor, then as a photographer, and now as a copy editor. His photos have also been published by the San Francisco Bay ViewSan Francisco Public Press, Mission Local, and Xpress Magazine. Neal has also created and taught four SFSU Experimental College courses. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, and reading.

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