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Mayo Clinic's new food vendor prompts union outrage

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Mayo Clinic patients will soon be eating food prepared by a new vendor. However, the change has "outraged" the SEIU union, which has vowed to fight it "at every step" in hopes of protecting its Rochester-based employees.

A tentative decision was announced Thursday by Mayo declaring that Morrison Healthcare would be assuming control of food and nutrition services at Mayo campuses. A phased transition will occur during the next 12 to 18 months, according to Mayo spokesman Bryan Anderson.

Mayo says local employees will be offered jobs for the same pay, but the SEIU still blasted the decision to contract with Morrison Healthcare by calling it a "race-to-the-bottom plan of moving hundreds of food service jobs to a sub-contracted, out-of-state company."

No union employees were made available for comment, but SEIU President Jamie Gulley sounded off on their behalf in a written statement.

"The Mayo Clinic has been asking for tens of millions of dollars from the state with the pitch it will help bring 'good jobs' to Rochester, but now they are talking about moving hundreds of good jobs to a less stable sub-contractor to help increase their profits," Gulley said. "Workers in these jobs provide essential services to patients at Mayo, helping to make Mayo a world renowned hospital. We are outraged they are even talking about such (a) controversial plan, and will be fighting it at every step to ensure that Mayo patients have the best care, the hospital system is recruiting and rewarding the world's best workforce, and the city of Rochester are a safe and healthy place to live for everyone, not just the executives of Mayo."

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According to its website, Morrison Healthcare is a "leading national food and nutrition services company that proudly serves more than 650 hospitals and healthcare systems." It was created 65 years ago and is now based in Atlanta, Ga., serving 43 states and boasting an annual revenue of nearly $2 billion .

Morrison Healthcare is also a founding member of Compass One Healthcare, a collaboration with Crothall Healthcare that provides food, nutrition and support to 1,650 facilities across the country. Morrison has been voted one of Modern Health's "Top 100 Best Places To Work in Healthcare" for five straight years.

"This change will allow us to deliver consistent and enhanced food and nutrition options to our patients, visitors and staff," Mayo Clinic said via statement. "We realize the importance of food and nutrition as part of the healing process, and we're pleased to work with Morrison Healthcare to provide an outstanding culinary experience.

"To increase the consistency and efficiency of our food service program and to provide the foundation for additional enhancements, we have made the decision to move to a single approach, operated by a vendor that is a leading food and nutrition services company."

The change will impact 20 Mayo facilities that offer food services, which are currently provided by a mix of Mayo staff, vendors or a combination of the two, Anderson said.

Mayo Clinic did not immediately respond to requests for comment on SEIU's statement.

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