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Seattle School District employees fed up with unsafe kitchen

IUOE-logoSEATTLE (July 15, 2015) — The Seattle School District employees who work in the Central Kitchen at the John Stanford Center Educational Excellence (JSCEE) are fed up with unsafe working conditions. As fines and citations from state workplace safety officials continue to mount, their union — Operating Engineers Local 609 — is also pursuing a contractual grievance to try to force the school district to address the unsafe work environment. The School District has not responded in a timely fashion, moving the issue closer to litigation.

In the latest events, the Seattle School District was cited on July 6 by the State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for eight separate safety violations at the JSCEE’s Central Kitchen — all but one deemed “serious” — and fined $32,000. The violations included failure to train workers and ignoring safety procedures for industrial packaging machines, lack of protections for workers or disclosure regarding hazardous industrial cleaning chemicals, lack of access to emergency an eye-wash station, and more.

It’s not the first time the JSCEE kitchen has been cited. Last month, the Seattle School District was fined $5,250 for safety violations at the same kitchen, and in 2011, taxpayers forked over more than $28,000 to cover safety fines there.

“Our union continues to try every internal mechanism to address these dangerous conditions, but little attention has been given to ongoing unsafe working conditions at the District’s Central Kitchen,” said David Westberg, Business Manager for IUOE Local 609. “For far too long, policymakers at Seattle Schools have made the comfort and proliferation of administrators downtown a priority at the expense of workplace safety for those who prepare meals for Seattle’s children daily.”

For more information about IUOE Local 609, visit the union’s website at

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