Ruling Rejects Outsourcing in Bristol
In a victory for Bristol public service workers and their community, the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations ruled the Board of Education bargained in bad faith by refusing to honor a tentative concession agreement that would have prevented the outsourcing of school cafeteria services. The ruling culminates nearly two years of work by members of AFSCME Local 2267, representing non-certified Board of Education employees in Bristol, and Council 4 staff to beat an back outsourcing effort that impacted more than 50 cafeteria workers and their services.
“This has been a difficult ordeal for all of us,” said Kathy Martin, a 14-year cafeteria veteran who works at Ivy Drive Elementary School, “but we fought hard through our union and justice prevailed. Taking care of the students, and feeding them nutritious meals, has always been our bottom line. That’s why we will continue to speak out against outsourcing.”
The June 17 ruling came less than a month after the Board officially moved to hire Whitson’s, a for-profit company based in Long Island, despite the fact that the Labor Board had not yet decided on the unfair labor practice complaint Council 4 filed last year.
“We are thrilled with the labor board’s decision,” added Local 2267 President Chad Lockhart. “For two years, school cafeteria workers have been kicked around like a political football at the expense of all Bristol taxpayers. But we stood together and kept the faith. This is a victory for the community.”
The Bristol Board of Education has yet to indicate it will accept the decision and abide by the law, but that does not alter the impact of the ruling.
“The panel decision makes clear that the employer is not Whitson’s but the Bristol Board of Education,” said Kevin Murphy, Council 4’s Director of Collective Bargaining and Organizing.
Local 2267 and Council 4 also moved to mobilize and sustain community support as the Board of Education pursued outsourcing. Union members distributed flyers, collected signatures for a petition in opposition, took out ads and billboards and recruited other union members and city residents to attend school board meetings to express their opposition.