3/15/08

SEIU organizers spread fear, misinformation

Union officials say that Chicago area District 300 is overpaying its food-service provider and taking on huge debt because of it. But district officials counter that the claims are wildly off base and a result of comparing the wrong figures. Laurie Couch, of Service Employees International Union, said the district’s food-service program had run deficits up to $2.2 million since 1998.

The study is SEIU’s latest front in its push to help the district’s food-service workers unionize. “This is an example of how you can misconstrue the data,” Superintendent Ken Arndt said Friday.

Arndt has asked the district’s Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Crates to investigate the claims and report back to the school board at its April 14 meeting.

Crates said the union’s figures didn’t take into account the district’s switch to accrual accounting and another change in accounting methods.

“It’s a matter of using pieces of different reports,” she said.

The union did not ask the district any questions when preparing its study of food-service costs, Crates said.

“For this, it’s a matter of knowing what to ask,” she said.

Over the past few months, SEIU officials and District 300 food-service workers have spoken out at board meetings about faulty equipment and poor management from food-service provider Aramark.

Arndt said he took all complaints about food quality seriously.

(nwherald.com)

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