MCPSS CNP workers looking for increases, more workers

“We need help. We just need help.”

This was the sentiment shared by dozens of Child Nutrition Program (CNP) workers attending the final public hearing for the new Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) budget last September. 13.

After the first hearing – held a few days earlier – had no public contribution, around 40 canteen operators and managers were present and expressed their concerns on multiple issues.

When the first volume of the budget came out, higher increases were included for most faculty and staff employed by MCPSS. However, canteen workers and executives received only a slight increase.

According to the latest budget review provided by MCPSS, most CNP assistants will receive a $ 600 to $ 700 increase for the year. The increases provided to CNP managers averaged around $ 1,100.

The starting salary for canteen workers was $ 13,113 for the 2021-22 school year, as executives started at $ 27,956.

In the current state of structuring, CNP workers are only able to maximize their salary to $ 22,338 if they are on their 27th raise, while managers can only reach a salary of $ 41,788.

MCPSS Board Chair Bill Foster said the final decision is far from over and the only way the board can make the appropriate changes is to hear input from the public.

“We will definitely consider some of the things we have learned here today,” said Foster. “I knew we were short of canteen workers and therefore we were critical of the system. We’re not done with the salary program at all. We’ve made some changes already, but we’re still getting input. “

A CNP worker at Mary G. Montgomery High School approached the board and said, “For a lot of people in here, this is their only source of income. You go to a store and buy a jar of mayonnaise and it costs $ 8 per jar. It’s a bit of an hour of work for most of us. It’s a big deal when most of your CNP employees are earning below the poverty line. “

A CNP aide who approached the council detailed her experience trying to find affordable housing while she had to do two jobs to make ends meet.

“I tried to take on a second job doing cleaning jobs,” he said. “But I couldn’t do it because my body was already broken by the end of the day. I’m at a point in my life where I want a home. I know how difficult it is to go to the bank and ask for a loan. I’ve even gone through Habitat for Humanity and can’t even find a home through Habitat. “

CNP assistants work 187 days a year. Most are under contract as six or seven hour workers. But most assistants work well beyond the six or seven hour window they were hired for without receiving extra compensation. As a result, workers are often forced to handle multiple aspects of the job at a time, forcing other areas to suffer from a lack of help.

Having been in the school system as a CNP worker for 20 years, a manager at BC Rain High School told the board that she earns less than $ 30,000 a year. And due to the lack of help and pay, she has almost reached the breaking point.

“On Monday, I put in $ 3,000 worth of groceries on my own because my workers had to feed the children,” she said. “I also made up the remaining work on Thursday and Friday, prepared my orders for the following week and worked on the service lines both ways. We need help. Everyone I called for a job either didn’t call back or when they get the facts from HR, they don’t want the job. I love what I do and had planned to be here for 30 years, but from now on, when I reach 25, I am leaving and will never come back. “

Many workers who attended the meeting said that they are often forced to work their shifts in two, three and sometimes four workers, forcing others to resume the game.

Patricia Knapp and Florence McCants are both canteen workers present at the meeting. They also expressed their concern about the lack of help in the workplace and the low pay rise originally suggested by the board.

Knapp has been a CNP worker at MCPSS for 11 years, while McCants has spent 23 years.

Both claim that the amount of work and the lack of sufficient pay for their work make it difficult to continue doing what they are passionate about.

“We all looked at the salary and noticed how little they gave us a raise,” Knapp said. “We decided we had to come and speak on behalf of all the canteen workers. It just irritates us that they can go to a fast food restaurant and earn $ 14 or $ 15 an hour and then earn $ 11 an hour to feed the children of the Mobile County public schools. “

McCants added: “I love feeding children and I love my job, but we need better pay and benefits. I hope and pray that the council will take care of us and make things better for us. I’ve been working eight hours and I’m not getting paid for it. Because we come in, but we don’t have to clock in, and I just want something to be done to improve the situation. “

While the final determination on what can and will be done for CNP workers in the wage program has yet to be finalized, Foster personally said he would like to see an increase.

“In my opinion, I am in favor of CNP workers receiving additional compensation in terms of pay,” Foster told Lagniappe. “We talked to a member of the board of directors and a member of the board of directors and I sent a message to our CFO telling her that I would support something like this.”

The MCPSS Board will hold a working session on Tuesday, September. 21, with the regular board meeting on Monday 7 September. 26.

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