Cafeteria workers fear school merger will cost jobs - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Cafeteria workers fear school merger will cost jobs

Food service and clerical workers say they've been excluded from planning discussions in the Memphis and Shelby County Schools merger. Food service and clerical workers say they've been excluded from planning discussions in the Memphis and Shelby County Schools merger.

(WMC-TV) – Food service and clerical workers say they've been excluded from planning discussions in the Memphis and Shelby County Schools merger.

Now, they're turning to the media to let their voices be heard in a show of support for the controversial school dinner program.

Food service workers say they've heard rumors the school merger will put meal services on the chopping block and say if that happens, low income children will suffer.

As the Memphis and Shelby County Schools Transition Committee maps out the unified school district, cafeteria workers worry they'll get lost in the big picture.

"There are rumors out there and we just want to make sure we get on the record that we're looking for a transition that really does serve the best interest of the community," said Chad Johnson, AFSCME executive director.

As rumors circulate that the merger will end in job cuts, the workers say their input has been ignored by the Transition Committee.

So Monday afternoon, they held a news conference at the AFSCME union hall to publicize the need for those staff positions to stay in place.

MCS Nutrition Center employees said they serve food and keep an eye out for the children.

"What's most important is the children and, if it's possible, to keep the staff in place," said nutrition center worker Belinda Young.

As it stands, Memphis City Schools have breakfast and dinner meal services and most Shelby County Schools do not.

"When we look at meal services provided to city students for breakfast and dinner services, they aren't proved to many Shelby County Schools because of the different income levels," said Johnson.

Coleman Elementary School Head Cook Emily Payne said the children of Memphis need the breakfast program to stay in place or many children won't eat at all.

"And then the after-school dinner. That's another nice thing," she said. "That's us working together."

The dinner program once caught the attention of radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called the dinner program a backdoor effort to employ union workers who traditionally support the Democratic Party.

But the workers say it's not about politics.

"We're all here for the children," Payne said. "Every employee at the school system loves those children."

The food service employees want to see where they fall into the plan and want to make sure everyone has a seat at the transition table.

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