Representatives from Unite Here Local 11 union and USC Hospitality employees met with Hospitality officials at the Radisson Hotel on Tuesday to discuss the issue of hiring subcontractors for summer housing work.
For the last 20 years, USC Hospitality employees who worked during the school year have been given the opportunity to work for USC Housing during the summer, according to representatives from the union. Both Hospitality and Housing are part of USC Auxiliary Services.
This year, however, employees said they were told USC Housing is planning to subcontract employees from an outside company, cutting the number of USC employees who will have jobs over the summer from nearly 600 workers down to approximately 40.
USC Hospitality Director Kris Klinger, however, said as far as he is aware, employees will have job offerings and Housing is not planning to subcontract.
“Every year the university slows down as students go away for the summer and a number of venues are closed. This is not something new,” Klinger said. “The staff will be offered the opportunity to work with other USC Auxiliary Services or other summer employment. No one is planning to subcontract and maybe there will be a few less positions because of the opening of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.”
This year’s Hospitality workforce is larger than in previous years because of job openings in the Campus Center, so more employees will be competing for summer jobs.
Nonetheless, the union filed a formal grievance to ask Hospitality for specific information about the kind of work employees will be offered and why subcontracting will be occurring. This grievance was presented at the meeting Tuesday.
About 40 USC Hospitality employees walked to the Radisson with union representatives Tuesday, but were not allowed into the meeting room for about 30 minutes. Hospitality representatives informed union representatives only five to seven employees would be allowed inside, as large numbers would not foster a productive atmosphere in a room with a maximum occupancy of about 30.
Most employees were eventually allowed inside the room to hear the proceedings, but others were left waiting outside after the doors closed. When these employees attempted to enter, they were denied, as Hospitality said the room was at maximum capacity.
Even though most of the workers will be rehired when school resumes in the fall, according to union representatives, many employees said they rely on work at USC during the summer to support their families.
“Many of them have children and mortgages to pay,” said Jeimmy Summers, a cashier. “Some are already working two jobs and pulling double shifts. The exhaustion and stress is taking its toll for many employees and their families as they wonder how they will provide for their families this summer.”
The meeting at the Radisson followed a union meeting last Saturday, which took place at the United University Church. Employees who attended that meeting demanded answers from union president Tom Walsh about how he was reacting to this issue.
According to Summers, information about possible job openings off campus was relayed to employees who attended.