Frontline food service workers from UConn Health are facing an uncertain future due to an open Request for Proposal (RFP) process putting their jobs at risk, according to a press release.
An RFP is a process where a buyer is able to gather information from potential suppliers. In an open RFP any potential supplier is allowed to view RFP documents and submit a response (bid), according to supplierselect.com.
UConn Health’s current food provider, Sodexo, bid offer has prompted other contractors to place their bids for auction in order to become providers for UConn’s kitchen according to the press release.
Food service workers met with Josh Elliot, a state representative and the chairman of the higher education committee, in order to voice their concerns about the RFP process.
Workers are concerned that the selection of a new food provider at UConn could potentially disrupt the current benefits workers have or could put them at risk of losing their jobs.
Beryl Hicks, an employee at UConn Health for 15 years, said that the open RFP process is concerning because she has no idea what is going to happen to her income.
“We may lose everything, we may not even have a job,” Hicks said.
Hicks said that her husband died almost a year ago, which meant that she was solely dependent on her own income. She said that the RFP process puts her in a difficult position and that for her it was important that whoever UConn hires that they are able to keep the worker’s contract and benefits.
“We had to come in for work every single day to make sure that our customers and our patients were fed,” Hicks said. “It was very scary because [COVID] could have affected our own health, let alone going home and affect our own families. But we were there to make sure that our customers and patients were fed.”
Cory Walker, an employee that had been with UConn Health for 2 years, said that working during the pandemic had been stressful because of the risk of getting infected.
“Everyday coming here to help get things ready for patients and clients, we’re putting our livelihoods on the line,” Walker said. “It’s affected me because I’ve been working harder, things haven’t been as organized, and I’ve been spending less time with my son and my daughter.”
Walker said that the contract is important for him because he needs his job in order to pay for his child’s childcare services and to be able to see his daughter.
“UConn needs to step it up,” Walker said. “Choose a provider that’s going to guarantee our contracts, our livelihoods, and especially our jobs.”