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January 22, 2013

BEAM: The Count of Monte Sodexo

(Continued)

Yes, a company that underbid all the other businesses seeking a contract that they knew would take a loss took a loss. Mr. Boone must be experiencing some sort of déjà vu. 

Last month, the NA-FC school board granted a short contract extension to Sodexo to the tune of $150,000 while they search for a new custodial provider. Oh, yeah, and they might need to lay off some employees. Pardon my French, but what the foie gras is going on here?

So I decided to investigate a little bit. I’m no Woodward or Bernstein, but I sure can search the Internet like a modern day Sherlock. And low and behold, I found some interesting reading about our little Sodexo.

First off, Sodexo isn’t so little. It’s one of the largest companies of its kind in the world. According to CNN, the company earned $557.5 million in profits worldwide in 2010, a 5.1 percent increase from the year before. No wonder they thought they could survive a couple of years of loss here in Floyd County.

More importantly, the company seems to have a certain panache for attracting protesters. More than one organization has accused them of using unfair business practices. In fact, the state of New York and Sodexo reached a $20 million dollar settlement in July 2010 for allegedly overcharging public schools they serviced during a five-year time period. 

Other watchdog groups contend that Sodexo engages in even more questionable procedures. Human rights group TransAfrica Forum released a 32-page report that listed numerous concerns about the company including low worker pay and unfair labor practices.

“Sodexo routinely hires poor and undereducated workers who are often geographically isolated, pays them low wages, and at times, reportedly fails to pay in full for hours worked including overtime pay,” the report stated. “In the United States, many Sodexo workers report they earn so little they qualify for federal anti-poverty programs and are proactively denied requests for overtime.”

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