While Georgetown University Facilities workers and Department of Public Safety officers were compensated at twice their usual rate for hours they clocked during Hurricane Sandy last week, dining staff who continued to work through the storm say they were not paid overtime by their employer,Aramark Higher Education.
Aramark gave O’Donovan Hall employees the option to work during storm days or go home with no penalty, according to an employee who works on the lower level of the dining hall.
The employee spoke anonymously because he was instructed by his managers not to talk to the press.
“Technically, they should [have paid us more] because you could call this a hazardous duty pay,” the employee said. “There were hazardous conditions, and we had to brave the elements to come back down here to go back to work and make sure everything was running smoothly for the students.”
According to Aramark Director of Communications Karen Cutler, the 25 dining services workers who chose to work through the storm were provided with overnight accommodations at the Georgetown Hotel and Conference Center. The workers served 7,600 meals during a six-and-a-half-hour period on Monday. Leo’s closed at 4 p.m. Monday and reopened 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“In a situation like Superstorm Sandy, our first priority is the safety and well-being of our employees,” Cutler wrote in an email statement. “We are very proud that our team was able to serve the campus.”
Employees said they remained on campus out of concern for students.
“As long as I was safe, it was OK. I know I was motivated by helping the students,” Leo’s employee Martina Hamilton said.
Cutler did not comment on why dining staff were not paid more than their normal rate.
Dining hall workers were not the only university employees to continue working during the storm. Facilities employees were expected to come to work during the hurricane and were paid double wages for doing so.
“In general, non-salaried workers who are covered by bargaining agreements are paid according to the agreement at twice the rate of regular pay [during emergencies],” university spokeswoman Stacy Kerr wrote in an email.
Kerr confirmed that workers designated as essential employees were also expected to work during the storm. She said that many employees worked their usual eight-to-10-hour shifts, while some took on extra hours.
According to Kerr, the number of staff who came in to work varied by department. For example, she said, 100 percent of utilities staff came in.
“You always have to come in to work. They expect you to come in no matter how [bad it is],” facilities employee José Ivan Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez estimated that about half of the facilities workers came in on Monday and Tuesday. He said that the university offered these workers free parking and lodging, and according to Kerr, about 10 employees chose this option.
The Department of Public Safety also maintained its usual operation.
“With the exception of command staff, DPS had normal staffing allocations,” Kerr said. Though DPS officers are typically not allowed to work more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period, this prohibition is lifted during emergencies. Kerr said that several officers did work a full 24 hours during the storm, and, like facilities employees, these officers were also compensated at twice their normal rate.