Two former head pantry workers have decided to return to their residential college dining halls, though their assignments will be different from what they were prior to their original departure.
Last June, the University announced that the production of salads, dressings and deli items would be shifted from the residential colleges to the Culinary Support Center, an off-campus food preparation facility. In August, head pantry workers were relocated from the colleges to the new facility. Workers were so upset by the changes that Yale’s blue-collar union, Local 35, was driven to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in September.
In March, Yale Dining and Local 35 finally reached an agreement to give former head pantry workers the opportunity to return to their residential college dining halls.
“It wasn’t a tough decision for me,” said Sally Notarino, a former head pantry worker who just returned to Silliman. “I guess for me it wasn’t even a question. I was waiting for this to happen. I already knew when the chance arose that I would jump on it and do whatever I had to do to come back.”
Silliman Chef Stu Comen said the dining hall has been in need of extra hands ever since they began serving hot breakfast this year. Notarino has returned as a server and has been assisting with hot breakfast, and she has been a tremendous help to the staff, Comen said.
Notarino and Debbie Ruocco, who previously served as head pantry worker in Berkeley, chose to return to uncertain roles. Ruocco said she will not know the details of her new position until she meets with the Berkeley dining hall manager on Monday, her first day back.
“I don’t know what I’m going to be doing there since my job doesn’t exist anymore,” she said. “But I decided to return because I didn’t really like working at the CSC.”
Notarino said Yale Dining made it “loud and clear” that the return offer was a one shot deal, after which it would be much more difficult to transfer out of the CSC.
Comen added that former head pantry workers who wish to return to their dining halls will now have to “bid out,” thereby losing their labor grade. But because Notarino and Ruocco took advantage of the compromise between Yale Dining and Local 35, their pay grade will remain the same, Comen said.
According to Notarino, part of her job used to be improving the appearance of dishes and spontaneously adding novel options to the menu.
“I’ve been in residential dining for 21 years,” Notarino said. “We have pride here at Silliman and we want to strive to be number one here on campus. This is our home, so we do whatever we can to make it the best.”
Davenport Dining Hall Assistant Manager Hugo Vergara said he does not know what Davenport’s former head pantry worker, whom he declined to name, would have done if she had returned. Head pantry jobs no longer exist, he said, and he understands why she chose to stay at CSC.
“The one that was here doesn’t want to come back, and we’re okay with that,” he said. “She said she is happy where she is — she likes the hours there a lot.”