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As H1NI Hits New Orleans in Force: School Custodians to Hold Rally to Call on Contractor to Stop Penalizing Workers Coping With Illness

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SEIU Local 21LA members and New Orleans employees of the global corporation Sodexo will hold a rally Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009, at noon at Sodexo Facilities and Maintenance headquarters, 3800 Desire Parkway, New Orleans, to protest an unreasonable leave policy and arbitrary disciplinary policies that target employees who are ill or who need to care for an ill family member. Sodexo employees who clean schools in the Recovery School District have come under fire, including a mother who had to take time off to care for sick children in the hospital or suffering with serious illnesses such as the swine flu.

"My child had a high fever and I had to pick him up from school," explained Tiyana Landry, a custodian for the school district, "and Sodexo management told me if I went to pick him up from school, I would be fired."

Sodexo, an international corporation contracted to provide custodial services at the Recovery School District and charter schools, has promoted aggressive and potentially dangerous policies that put children at risk and force parents to choose between caring for their sick children and their jobs. Sodexo has come under scrutiny for its labor practices including allegedly forcing employees to work off the clock, failing to pay people for all the hours they worked, neglecting to pay proper overtime, or denying workers their job back after returning from medical or maternity leave -- a right guaranteed under the Family and Medical Leave Act. For more on the company's record, go to

"We work so hard to keep the schools clean while being so shorthanded but Sodexo's management threatens and punishes us," said Sodexo cleaner Ronald Johnson," custodian at a charter school.

Sodexo has the schools understaffed, increasing the work, pressure and threats to its employees.

SEIU Local 21 LA represents 6,000 mostly public-sector employees in Louisiana.


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