SEIU Local 99 Cafeteria Workers deliver “Stop the Bullying!” petitions to top LAUSD Food Services Administrators.

Yes! I will click here to sign the petition!

I will join with other SEIU Local 99 Food Service workers to make sure the District knows what’s happening in the kitchens!

On January 31st, several of us met with LAUSD Food Services Director Joseph Vaughn and the Division’s Human Resources Manager, Mimi Trinh. This was our first official Labor Management Committee Meeting since we began collecting our petitions to stop the culture of bullying in LAUSD kitchens.

Tonya Chambers headshot“I thought it was a really productive meeting. It felt like the new Food Services Director, Mr. Vaughn, really wants to work with us to put a stop to the bullying and threats. He was adamant that this is not acceptable. I really liked his passion. I got the impression that he really values the work all of us do to make sure students get a healthy meal. Now it’s up to all of us to keep up the pressure and hold the District accountable to make real improvements.”    —Tonya Chambers, Senior Cafeteria Worker at Hoover Elementary

At this meeting, Local 99 cafeteria workers delivered our petitions (click here for the results!) and expressed our concerns about harassment, bullying, favoritism and hostile work environments in the District’s Food Services Division.

Mr. Vaughn and Ms. Trinh both agreed to work with us to develop a plan to diminish workplace bullying.

  • They agreed to expand the District’s training program for both management and cafeteria staff to encourage better and more respectful communication. They indicated that they would invite both management and SEIU Local 99 members in the kitchens to assist in developing and conducting these future trainings.
  • The District also made a commitment to work with the union to investigate each of the problems discussed in our petitions. They assured us that they are taking our stories very seriously. They were especially troubled by the stories we have published online about Margaret and Grace. Our stories are powerful and have an impact!
  • They agreed that there should not be any favoritism. Managers should not be comparing one employee against another.
  • The District agreed that we have a right to privacy if a supervisor expresses a concern or a need for improvement. That supervisor should not be telling our co-workers. The District assured us that our privacy concerns would be part of their investigations.
  • We discussed how frivolous “incident logs” are used to intimidate staff. Managers frequently threaten to write up employees for insignificant things. We also talked about managers creating division among staff, creating cliques and animosity. The District agreed that this is not productive.
  • Finally, the District agreed that the workload should be equitably shared. Everyone should consistently help out, including management

The District reminded us that “there’s a form for that”—we told them yes, we get that, but it’s not working. We’ve filled them out. They get “lost” without any follow-up. And problem persists. We still experience bullying.

It needs to stop. These are some great first steps, but until we feel the difference at our worksites, we will continue to speak out, tell our stories and ask for real improvements to our work environments.

If you haven’t been following this, here’s some background:

Members speak of:

  • Being told to serve food that was unfit for children, including one story of having to serve frostbitten food;
  • Grossly unfair distribution of work, such as the member who was left alone to prep 300 meals while others were given much smaller assignments;
  • Being demeaned, including one member who spoke of being called a “b*#!%” by her manager;
  • Having to skip breaks, including one member who told of her manager purposely scheduling her breaks during her busiest time, making it impossible to take a break and still have food ready for the children;
  • Being labeled a “troublemaker” when we speak up, including one member who noted that it’s a way to keep us silent;
  • Being hassled when we are ill, including one member who said her manager tries to make staff come in when they’re out sick to prove that they are truly sick.

Are you currently being harassed or bullied?

Don’t keep silent. We are building a movement to fix this. Click here and fill out our Member Inquiry Form to begin the process to address the problems at your worksite.

Many of these examples were told with tears. A box of Kleenex is often passed around at these meetings. Members speak of losing sleep, feeling miserable and requiring medical attention as a result of the stress.

But the overwhelming mood is “enough is enough!”

If you’ve been the victim of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, you can click here to download the District’s Complaint Form. Read more here for tips on completing this form and how best to determine if what you’ve experienced will be seen as harassment.

Read Margaret’s story:

Cooking Up a New Cafeteria Culture


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