School cafeteria workers make plea for improved pay

Kim Robins - Posted on Feb 26, 2014 - 01:41 PM

Most of the 70 employees of Gloucester Public Schools cafeterias showed up at a budget hearing Tuesday evening to show their support for improved compensation.

Speaking on behalf of the employees, Petsworth Elementary School’s cafeteria manager Michelle Craig told the Gloucester School Board that cafeteria workers deserve pay that is equal to that of other support services workers.

Craig asked the board to reevaluate its pay scale for her department and to reinstate a cash incentive for perfect attendance that now is offered only to school bus drivers. 

Craig said school cafeterias serve about 4,500 meals per day and have made a profit over the last 16 years, which has helped the department remain self-sustaining. “Our department’s revenue is a result of our hard work,” Craig told the board. But profit goes to new equipment, not personnel, she said. 

The board also heard from Abingdon Elementary cafeteria manager Kathy Stoffel who said substitute workers and new hires for her department make a dollar less an hour than subs and new hires in other support services areas.

Stoffel said about 20 percent of cafeteria workers are single mothers who work in cafeterias while their children are in school to reduce child-care costs.