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Cafeteria workers, Lodi Unified School District at odds over breaks

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Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:18 am, Sat Apr 14, 2012.

After cafeteria workers at several school sites reported being denied their paid break time, the classified union has filed a grievance against Lodi Unified School District.

Dan Morris, labor relations representative with the California School Employees Association, says he's heard from about 10 workers at each school site who are working more than four hours without a 15-minute break.

"I started getting calls from workers that they were working too many hours without breaks. I had one in my office crying about what's happening to her," said Morris.

Some employees who work between five and 6 1/2 hours a day are receiving a 30-minute lunch break, but no rest period.

Morris says this is a breach of contract going back about three years.

For every 15-minute break period not taken, the employee is owed one hour of pay, said Bridget Wilson, job Steward and executive board member for CSEA.

The union doesn't plan to ask for the back pay as long as employees get the breaks they are entitled to, she said.

"We want employees to have the rest periods they're entitled to. We're not going to go back and make them pay if we can solve this another way," she said.

The district has denied the grievance on the grounds that it is untimely and does not clearly identify violations of the contracted terms.

"Obviously we're reading the contract differently," said Wilson.

A level I grievance was filed Jan. 9 after an informal conference to settle the issue found no solutions.

Another meeting was held between CSEA and the district on Jan. 24, but no resolution was reached.

The district denied the resolution as untimely on Feb. 9.

CSEA filed a level II grievance on Feb. 17, and another meeting was held Feb. 29, followed by a denial on March 12.

The district maintains that employees who work a 6-hour day split up by a half-hour lunch do not qualify for a break. Breaks occur during a 4-hour work period, which doesn't happen in the three hours before or after the lunch, according to a memo by Neil Young, director of personnel, to the CSEA.

Young was not available for comment as of press time.

Next week, Wilson will meet with Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer to discuss the grievance.

"I don't expect a good outcome from that," said Wilson.

From there, the process will move to either the Lodi Unified board of trustees or to arbitration to settle the issue outside of court.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:42 pm on Tue, Apr 17, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Just to add to what Alex expressed, We are talking about "paid" breaks, and not just breaks if I am understanding this correctly.

    I understand what Alex is saying... . Six hours or less with a 30 minute paid lunch sounds great. Unfortunately unfair labor laws, made by politicians supported by the very people who are complaining, exist.

  • Kim Parigoris posted at 6:14 am on Tue, Apr 17, 2012.

    Kim Parigoris Posts: 469

    And here we go- it will go to arbitration- I beleive the figure in the LUSD budget for arbitration is about 900,000. That money would sure go a long way to helping to educate our kids, wouldn't it? But no, let's spend on union frivoulous suits! Here is a good opinion piece I dug up from the Lodinews last year...http://www.lodinews.com/opinion/columnists/steve_hansen/article_4630a568-7f47-5ab4-8e72-d1c91b28d2ce.html?mode=print

  • Kim Parigoris posted at 6:09 am on Tue, Apr 17, 2012.

    Kim Parigoris Posts: 469

    How about the public employees unions all take a permanent "break"? The percentange of private sector companies that are signatory to unions has dropped from 24% in the 70's to about 7%. It is unsustainable, but the school districts and government agencies have an unlimited source of revenue- the American taxpayer. Spend more than you bring in- don't worry about it- just go the the taxpayers- they can handle it! How about if we attach monitors to these folks and if their heart rate goes under 70 bpm, we will consider them being idle and dock their pay. This has just gotten so ridiculous. When the system crashes and we are all working for the government for our food and housing, we will miss those well paid days where we didn't get a break. The unions are just going to push and push until we have full -blown socialism and the elitists will not be capitalists, they will be Hugo Chavez's...

  • Tim Litton posted at 8:56 am on Sat, Apr 14, 2012.

    Tim Litton Posts: 24

    It doesn't matter if it's needed, if their told they get one then they should be able to take one. If the district didn't want for them to have a fifteen minute break then they shouldn't have put it in the contract. This is a non-story and kinda of a joke that the paper ran it. So what, employees are asking for their breaks. Whoopty De Doo!

  • Alex Kennedy posted at 8:20 am on Sat, Apr 14, 2012.

    Alex Posts: 215

    One does not need a half hour lunch and a 15 minute break during a 6 hour shift. Crying in his office about "what is happening to her"... BS. They should consider themselves lucky to have jobs.



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