MSU food services workers looking for better treatment through union representation

Posted by: KFTC staff on January 19, 2015

Food service workers at Morehead State University will be voting Wednesday on whether to be represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The vote comes after an organizing drive during which 70 of about 100 full-time workers signed union cards. The workers are employees of Aramark, which has the food service contract at the school.

But since then Aramark – apparently with university officials keeping hands off – has brought in “a consultant for the union-busting blitz,” said Rowan chapter member John Hennen. “All employees have received flyers and letters with the usual half-truths and outright lies common to the corporate assault against workers daring to speak up for themselves.”

In a statement, Aramark said it is neither pro-or anti-union but prefers that its employees deal directly with the company.

Workers have a number of concerns that led to the union drive, including:
•    exposure to toxic chemicals (cleaning fluids) without proper training,
•    lack of respect
•    not enough overall job training
•    insufficient wages.

“People consistently have brought their concerns and issues to management and consistently they have been ignored,” said Cody Montgomery, a KFTC member and full-time cook told the Morehead News. “The union is a tool for the employees to use to ensure that we are treated with dignity and respect.”

There will be a rally on Tuesday to suport the workers on the eve of their vote. It will take place in the Adron Doran University Center between 12:30-1:30 p.m. There will be speeches and music.

Montgomery said that he was the last person to sign an interest card but has now become one of the leading members of a core group of employees.

“There is a man who has worked here for 10 years and his pay is capped at $8.25 per hour, a woman who has worked here for 15 years and is capped at $10.25 per hour, and when I negotiated for my pay as a lead cook I asked for $1 over the poverty line … which would be about $15 per hour and I was denied,” said Montgomery. “I also was not properly trained on how to use a degreaser chemical and inhaled fumes that damaged my lungs and caused blood clots and I asked to file an accident report multiple times and found that it was never filed when we requested OSHA records.”

The pay scale is such that many employees cannot afford the health insurance that the company offers. That’s important for Montgomery and his Lisa, his wife and the chapter’s representative on the KFTC Steering Committee, who are expecting their first child.

The Rowan County KFTC Chapter passed a resolution supporting workers’ right to organize, and members have assisted in collecting hundreds of faculty and student signatures supporting the workers’ rights.

“The outside support does validate what we are doing and legitimizes our concerns,” said Montgomery. “Knowing we are not alone means a lot and the students are what we are coming to work for. They are who we serve and what this institution is about so it means so much to have their support.”

“The company campaign has had some effect and many workers who signed cards are now scared,” wrote Hennen. “The organizing committee is putting together an impressive rapid response and educational structure for the campaign. If they win at Morehead State, this could set off a wave of food service organizing in the city and throughout eastern Kentucky.”

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Whose Moment Is It?

Posted by: Meta Mendel-Reyes on December 17, 2014

This is a Movement moment.  Whose moment is it?  Like any of the risings of the past, there are people trying to claim the moment.  But you can’t own a moment, hold it within your hands like a flu

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Long-time KFTC leader Daymon Morgan remembered

Posted by: KFTC staff on December 14, 2014

Daymon Morgan, one of KFTC’s longest and best-known members, has died. He was 88 and had experienced a brief illness.

Daymon joined KFTC shortly after moving back to Kentucky in 1986. As he described in the book Making History: The First Ten Years of KFTC:

"I went into the Army when I was 18 year old. When I came out of the Army I bought a mountain farm in Leslie County. I moved to Ohio and worked for the Chrysler Corporation until 1986. We moved back to the farm. I bought a portable sawmill, a horse and some Mountain Cur hunting dogs. I spent most of my time cutting timber, sawing lumber, hunting with my dogs, farming and working with KFTC."

Daymon also found that a coal company was claiming the mineral under his land.

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Black Lives Matter: KFTC member reflections and resources for learning and taking action

Lexington Black Lives Matter Rally. Photo credit: Meta Mendel-Reyes
Posted by: Lisa Abbott on December 13, 2014

Back-to-back decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City not to press charges against police officers who killed Mike Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men, have sparked massive protests, along with heartache, anger, and calls for accountability and change in communities across Kentucky and the nation. The injustices exposed by these recent cases are sadly not new, and neither is the movement that is growing in response to them. However, recent events have created a moment filled with a sense of urgency, energy and determination. 

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2014 Kentucky Kicks Ass Brewfest

Posted by: Sarah Martin on December 2, 2014

Austin Norrid, Danielle Empson, Tyler Offerman>800 Tickets

50 Beers

35 Volunteers

14 Breweries

3 Food Trucks

3 KY Hops Organizations

1 Awesome Honky-Tonk DJ

= FUN!

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Big win: Judge rejects deals between Kentucky officials and coal company

Posted by: KFTC staff on November 24, 2014

The Franklin Circuit Court on Monday issued two long-awaited orders rejecting settlement deals between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and Frasure Creek Mining arising from the coal company’s thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 through 2011.

In extraordinarily vigorous language, Judge Phillip Shepherd said that due to the coal company’s actions, “The inherent danger of the violations at issue here to the environment is impossible to determine based on Frasure Creek's wholesale abdication of its monitoring and reporting responsibilities, and the cabinet's inability to fully investigate the environmental harm that is likely to have occurred.”

“Since October 2010, we have been in the courts to see that the law be enforced in the state of Kentucky,” said Ted Withrow, a member of KFTC's Litigation Team. “These rulings by Judge Shepherd serve to enforce that right of the people."

In 2010, Appalachian Voices, Kentucky Waterkeeper Alliance, Kentucky Riverkeeper, KFTC and several individuals made public more than 20,000 violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 to 2010 by Frasure Creek and a second coal company, International Coal Group (which later settled out of court). Under the law, these violations could be subject to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. On the 57th day, the cabinet and Frasure Creek entered a proposed consent agreement that included only 1,520 violations and combined fines of just $310,000.

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Building power for KFTC and for Kentucky: KFTC PowerBuilders

Posted by: George Eklund on November 18, 2014

We are our own best hope for change in Kentucky. We have a vision of the Kentucky we want to create and how to get there. Hardworking Kentuckians share their hopes and dreams every day in laundromats and coffee shops, over kitchen tables and on front porches. How do we share our visions for Kentucky in an intentional way with our friends and families?

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Thanks for helping build a Healthier Democracy in Ky!

Posted by: KFTC staff on November 4, 2014

The polls in Kentucky are getting ready to close. As we await the election results we want to say THANKS for the incredible work done by KFTC members, volunteers, short-term voter empowerment organizers and staff over the past few months. With your help we are building a healthier democracy in Kentucky.

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KFTC and Berea College team up for candidate forum

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 31, 2014

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Madison chapter celebrates 10 years of grassroots work

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 30, 2014

Madison County KFTC members gathered in Berea on October 25 to celebrate the chapter’s 10th birthday, share a potluck, enjoy live music and take silly photos.

The annual Friendraiser was a chance to not only reflect on the past year’s work but also celebrate the good work of the chapter’s first 10 years.

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'After Coal' forums connect mining communities across globe and bring out local candidates

Posted by: Lillian Prosperino on October 27, 2014

On October 7, KFTC’s Letcher County Chapter paired with Appalshop in Whitesburg and the After Coal project of Appalachian State University, to host a public community forum on economic transition, and a local candidate meet and greet reception.

The evening reception began with informal conversation among the 80 guests and several candidates for local office, including the mayor of Whitesburg and a few city council candidates. Mair Francis, founder of the DOVE Workshop, and Hywel Francis, a Labour Member of Parliament for Aberavon, Wales, traveled all the way to Whitesburg in order to discuss policies on sustainable community development in Wales and Appalachia. This was Mair and Hywell's first visit back to east Kentucky since sharing their experiences as the opening session of Appalachia's Bright Future conference in Harlan last year.

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