Student Well-Being

Conn. District in Food Fight

By Jeff Archer — October 11, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Parent volunteers in Hartford, Conn., are scrambling to make sure that students get snacks in after-school programs as a labor dispute threatens to halt their distribution.

For years, cafeteria workers in the 23,000-student district have prepared the snacks during their shifts, and then left them to be passed out in programs run for children after the school day.

But last month, a state arbitration panel agreed with a grievance filed by the food-service union arguing that unionized employees should distribute the snacks they prepare. That would mean paying them for their time.

How much?

“According to the terms of the contract, we would have to be bringing them back for a minimum of three hours, at time and a half, to do 15 minutes of work,” said district spokesman Terry D’Italia. “That’s really not feasible.”

The prospect that children will go snackless worries many Hartford parents. The district is about to begin the annual after-school and Saturday programs that give students several weeks of practice for state assessments.

“The timing is what concerns us,” said Laura Taylor, who heads the district’s council of Parent Teacher Organization presidents. “We want our children to be at their best when they’re trying to prepare for something that’s going to affect their school district.”

Ms. Taylor’s group has swung into action during the dispute to organize the preparation and distribution of snacks by parents. But, she said, volunteering is just a temporary solution, given the amount of work involved.

Food-service workers resent the implication that they’re hurting students, said Larry Dorman, a spokesman for the Connecticut council of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The AFSCME local affiliate in the Hartford district represents about 300 workers.

“We are absolutely incredulous that cafeteria workers making $11 an hour are suddenly responsible for the potential demise of the snack program,” he said.

Mr. Dorman contends that the real issue is a lack of respect by the district administration for the union. A grievance wouldn’t have been filed, he said, if district leaders had listened to their concerns.

Union and district leaders have begun talks in the hope of finding a solution.

A version of this article appeared in the October 12, 2005 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Opinion What Does the Dangerous Political Climate Mean for Schools?
Educators and researchers offer advice for navigating political polarization in the classroom.
5 min read
Grunge Collage styled urban graphic of US election
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Student Well-Being Q&A Why Educators Need to Better Understand What Drives Kids' Cellphone Addictions
As more school and day-to-day tasks are completed on smartphones and computers, teens struggle to manage their screen time.
3 min read
Young man and woman without energy on giant phone screen with speech and heart icons above them. Addiction. Contemporary art collage. Concept of social media, influence, online communication
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + iStock
Student Well-Being Q&A When Social Media and Cellphones Are Lifelines to Kids Who Feel Different
Like it or not, social media is an important venue for teens to find community and hone their identities.
4 min read
Young girl looking on mobile phone screen with multicolored social media icons. Finding community, belonging. Contemporary art collage. Concept of social media, influence, online communication and connection.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + iStock
Student Well-Being Q&A ‘It’s OK to Not Be on Your Phone’: An 18-Year-Old on Teaching Cellphone Etiquette
Whether it's asking permission to take a photo of someone or dimming a screen in a movie theater, kids need lessons in cellphone etiquette.
3 min read
Photo collage of hands holding phones with communication symbols superimposed. Learning phone etiquette.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + iStock/Getty Images