EDITORIAL: Loyola should reconsider Sodexo

Mark Michel, Op/Ed Editor

As Loyola issues its request for proposal for its next dining services operator, the university should take this opportunity to reflect on how Sodexo has had a continuously negative effect on both staff and students here on campus.

The company has shown its distaste for unions, something both students and workers have expressed passion for.

As a Jesuit university, we have a commitment to maintain and uphold our values not just in our academics, but in our values as an institution. Sodexo’s attitude toward unionization is contradictory to these values. Dignity and respect for workers is one of the foundational principles of Catholic social teaching which the Jesuits strive to uphold in their mission.

Specifically, the formation and solidarity of unions is seen as a way to promote the dignity of work and protect the rights of workers, especially those who are marginalized or oppressed. By forming unions, workers can act in solidarity with one another to advocate for their rights and improve their working conditions.

Several of Sodexo’s employees earn their living from this company, and a 3% raise, equal to only around 30 cents an hour for some, is insulting, to say the least.

Many of these issues began to come forward after there was a struggle to hire new employees after the pandemic in the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. This caused workers, especially student workers, to be overwhelmed and overworked to compensate for that.

Not only did this affect workers, but fewer workers led to longer wait times for places like Subway or Smoothie King and fewer food stations available in the Orleans Room.

Students with dietary restrictions have openly expressed frustration with Sodexo’s lack of accessibility for vegan or vegetarian diets. This issue, which was reported in October of 2021, still hasn’t seen much change by the company.

If Loyola considers another dining option, it should not displace the front-line workers. Rather, they should keep their jobs, just under a different company. A company that actually values their work and their rights to unionize.

As Loyola takes a look at the new proposals, they should consider looking for a new company that would benefit both the workers our community loves and the students they are meant to care for. This consideration needs to be grounded in our mission to maintain the dignity and rights of our workers in full alignment with our Jesuit values and the beliefs of our namesake – St. Ignatius of Loyola.