University of Vermont’s food service workers got good news Friday when University President Thomas Sullivan announced that changes to their benefits will not be implemented as scheduled.
The workers are employees of Sodexo, a multi-national company contracted for food services at UVM, St. Michael’s College, Champlain College and Vermont State Colleges.
Sodexo announced this year that it was changing its definition of a full-time employee in order to be consistent with the Affordable Care Act. That change would make it so that virtually all workers who do not work during summer vacation would lose their benefits, including health care and paid time off.
Sullivan announced today that the university is continuing to explore its contract with Sodexo, which states that the contractor can’t make substantial changes to hours, working conditions, pay or benefits of non-management employees without UVM’s approval.
Until the UVM administration completes the review of the contract, Sullivan said, “The changes proposed by Sodexo will not be implemented as originally announced by Sodexo.”
Part of the reason for the delay, Sullivan said in an email to the UVM community, was “the challenges of accessing accurate and timely information on which to assess available health care options, including enrollment procedures under the Affordable Care Act.”
Both the national and state health care exchanges have been plagued by glitches and errors, making it difficult for users to register and enroll in new health care plans. The uncertainty these flaws have created was part of the reason for the delay, Sullivan said.
“Sodexo employees will not experience changes in the current definition of employment status and associated benefits until further notice in order for the University to complete its analysis based on a full review of all relevant data and facts,” the statement said.
Based on Sullivan’s statement, it remains unclear if Sodexo will ultimately be allowed to make the change, which critics say will severely affect employees.
Student and faculty advocates plan to present separate petitions against the changes to theUVM Board of Trustees at its meeting on Saturday morning.