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Sodexo employees across U.S. vote to authorize strike

Cafeteria workers employed by Sodexo across the U.S. have, over the last five days, voted to authorize a strike action, according to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has been struggling to organize Sodexo’s employees. The union says that cafeteria workers at Ohio State Univeristy, Tulane University, Morehouse College, Loyola University New Orleans, Ohio’s Crew stadium, and at Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest and Good Shepherd hospital voted to authorize a strike and that other cafeteria workers employed by Sodexo at universities, school districts, and hospitals will hold similar votes in the near future.

“Workers everywhere are sick of global corporations getting richer while average Americans get poorer,” said Services Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry. “I’m proud of the cafeteria workers who are standing up and fighting back. It’s time that companies like Sodexo play by the same rules we grew up with–treat others like you want to be treated, with fairness and respect.”

“I may be a lunch lady,” said Rubynell Walker Barbee who works as a cashier at Morehouse College in Atlanta, “but that doesn’t mean I have to take whatever Sodexo dishes out. I get it, the less they pay me the more they can pay themselves. Well no, sir. Not anymore. I’m not striking just for me, I am striking for every single person in this country who keeps working harder but getting poorer.”

The union claims that, although it made more than a billion dollars profit in 2009, Sodexo pays its US workers as little as $7.50 an hour, just 25 cents above the minimum wage. The union also claims that the company fails to provide its workers with affordable health care options.

This situation, says the union, is an ominous warning for the rest of the country. It claims that service sector jobs will account for 96 percent of all job growth over the next eight years.