By Esha Dhawan
The Stanford service workers union and student activists are pushing back against a proposal from Residential Dining & Enterprises (R&DE) to change the schedules of Stanford storekeepers — service workers responsible for bringing food deliveries to dining halls — from 6 a.m. through 2:30 p.m. to 10 a.m. through 6:30 p.m.
Explaining the change, dining management cited an email from a dorm near Arrillaga Family Dining Commons stating that approximately thirty students have complained about noise from truck deliveries early in the morning, according to a survey sent out by Stanford Students for Workers’ Rights.
But Jose Escanuela, president of Stanford’s local chapter of Service Employees International Union (SEIU Local 2007), said that the change would upend workers’ lives. He pointed specifically to increased traffic and commute times during rush hour, transportation issues and disrupted childcare and care of other dependents.
“Even changing somebody’s schedule, nowadays, half an hour, can have a situation that’s a disaster,” said Escanuela, emphasizing that a four-hour change would require employees to rearrange many aspects of their lives.
Schedule changes would lead to a cascade of changes within the food delivery process, Escanuela added. Even if one or two trucks change their delivery times, he said, the delivery times of other items on the route would have to be changed as well.
R&DE was unable to respond to The Daily’s request for comment by the time of publication.
Some students don’t believe these complaints represent the entire student population. Yazmin Padilla-Alvarez ’23 shared her concerns with changing the storekeepers’ schedules on Twitter, commenting on the “privilege in this proposal.”
“I know these workers are just simply trying to provide for their family, and they deserve all the respect and protection,” Padilla-Alvarez told The Daily, referencing her own experience growing up low-income in east Oakland with parents who worked similar jobs.
“I find it very frustrating that students are complaining about the noises of the trucks that bring them food, but are okay with other noises like parties,” she added. “If there were to be any changes, they should have been done in the beginning before school began.”
Stanford Students for Workers’ Rights has circulated a survey to ask if students living in Branner, Wilbur Hall and Stern Hall — all dorms located close to Arrillaga Dining — are being affected by the noise. As of Thursday evening, 714 students have responded, according to Stanford Students for Workers’ Rights member Ethan Chua ’20. Of those students, 90% said that they were not affected by the noise, and 94% said they wouldn’t approve of schedule changes, Chua said.
“The storekeepers, however, don’t want their schedules changed — many of them have kids or second jobs, and a four-hour change in schedule would result in their lives being completely restructured,” the survey description reads.
SEIU 2007 has reached out to RD&E to further discuss potential impacts and the rationale behind the decision.
“There are provisions in the contract that talks about changing schedules and the processes for that, [including] input from the workers,” Escaneula said. “We, as a union, have to do our due diligence.”
Escanuela characterized SEIU’s conversation with R&DE as “a better conversation than we thought.”
“We’re kind of still in the middle of trying to resolve this, but we’re talking this time around,” he said.
Moving forward, he believes that there are solutions to mitigating the noise that would not create such substantial changes in storekeepers’ lives. For example, in his own work as a groundskeeper, Escanuela said, he switched to electric blowers to minimize interruptions for students.
“When you get input from the workers and everybody, you can come up with creative solutions,” Escanuela said.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that R&DE did not respond to multiple requests for comment. R&DE was in contact with The Daily but was unable to supply responses by the time of publication. The Daily regrets this error.