House Staffers Urge Cafeteria Boycott

Posted July 24, 2008 at 4:36pm

An informal group of House staffers are organizing a Tuesday boycott of the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria after a longtime employee was placed on leave earlier this week.

It remains unclear exactly why Doris Cherry was suspended from her duties at the cafeteria on Wednesday, although rumors are circulating that she was cited for being short money at her cash register.

Accounts of just how much money was short at the register differ. But according to one knowledgeable House source, Cherry was short cash on a few occasions totaling nearly $30.

A spokeswoman for Restaurant Associates, the vendor in charge of managing the cafeterias, could not be immediately reached for comment.

In a statement, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, which oversees Restaurant Associates contract with the chamber, said it does not manage day-to-day operations of the cafeteria.

“Vendors under contract to the House of Representatives operate their businesses according to their own practices and procedures. And some, like RA, also manage personnel in accordance with a union contract,” the statement reads. “The CAO is confident that any personnel actions RA chooses to take are justified, done in the interest of fairness and executed with due diligence, fully complying with all of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 25’s policies and procedures.”

Still, the suspension has outraged many House staffers, who are ignoring their partisan differences and banding together to show support for Cherry.

In an e-mail forwarded to hundreds of House employees on Thursday afternoon, organizers asked staffers to boycott the Longworth cafeteria on Tuesday. They also urged staffers to avoid all House cafeterias — since all are run by Restaurant Associates — but “realize that’s difficult during a day we’re in session.”

“Please, if nothing else avoid Longworth,” the e-mail reads.

Cherry has worked in the House for more than 30 years, nearly two decades as a Longworth cafeteria cashier. In 2004, she was named Employee of the Year by Guest Services, which ran the cafeterias at the time.

“This has outraged many of us who have seen her virtually every day for years,” the e-mail reads. “She is certainly one of the most beloved cafeteria workers and her dedication to customer service is exceptional.”