Last month, Mayo Clinic in Rochester announced plans to outsource all its food services to Georgia's Morrison Healthcare.
Doing so would require transferring some 700 Mayo food workers to Morrison.
Mayo says it wants to have a single vendor for all its hospital food. Currently, some food workers are employed by Sodexo — which does everything from prison food to school lunches — while others are unionized clinic employees.
"Nonunion Food and Nutrition Staff employed by Mayo Clinic, and those employed by previous vendors, will be offered employment at Morrison Healthcare at the employees’ current wages," says a Morrison Healthcare spokeswoman. "Effects of this tentative decision for union-represented employees will need to be negotiated with the unions."
For union workers, their salaries, benefits, health plans and union status are still up in the air.
Mayo Clinic workers were outraged when they heard of the plans, with many donning “no subcontracting” buttons at work. Some of these workers have stuck with Mayo for the past 40 years because of the relatively good pay, good benefits, and good reputation of the company. Large-scale food vendors are known for none of these things.
On Monday, SEIU Healthcare announced that an internal grievance had been filed with Mayo Clinic in an attempt to kill the contract before it’s finalized.
The complaint, which came with sparse details, alleges that Mayo’s food services administrator, Carol Gorman, was the main decision-maker on outsourcing to Morrison, and that she has a conflict of interest “due to a longstanding personal relationship with a Morrison executive.”
SEIU wouldn’t specify who this mysterious Morrison executive is and how Gorman is related.
"We are angered that Mayo would make a decision like this, one that affects the lives of 700 families in our community, especially now that it appears the decision was made under a cloud of dubious ethics," said SEIU Healthcare president Jamie Gulley.
"We believe Mayo executives are already aware of the apparent conflict of interest and we are demanding that Mayo make public any initial findings from their investigation immediately. We are calling for Ms. Gorman to be relieved of her duties pending a full investigation and for the decision to outsource workers be revisited in light of this debacle for Mayo."
Mayo spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo says the clinic is reviewing the grievance, but denies the decision was Gorman's alone.
Coincidentally, Gorman was transferred from food services management in mid-July. Plumbo says that many administrators are "rotational," and that "the timing was coincidental and had nothing to do with the subsequent allegations."