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Library Hires a New Cafeteria Operator

The Library of Congress has hired a new company to run its food services, taking the first step in its long-term plan to expand the agency’s dining options.

Right now, the Library has only one cafeteria: a relatively small operation on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building. An expansion would mean more options for Congressional employees who already crowd the House and Senate cafeterias.

On Tuesday, Library officials said the agency is hoping to add food service in the Thomas Jefferson Building courtyard, along with an extra dining room and coffee shop in the Madison Building.

Spokesman Matt Raymond said the agency and the new food vendor are still working “to iron out the details of these new enterprises.—

“We’ve been interested in that for some time, especially facilities in the Jefferson Building,— he said in an e-mail. “It only makes sense, given that the Thomas Jefferson Building is our major locus of public visitors year-round.—

FAME Food Management will officially take over the Library’s food service on Aug. 1, bringing a menu that includes a made-to-order Caesar salad bar, Mongolian bar and pasta bar.

It will replace I.L. Creations, a company that has been embroiled in conflict since it came to the Library at the end of 2007.

In its 18 troubled months, Creations officials fought with the workers’ union over changing benefits, unexpected layoffs and policy decisions.

At one point, they argued over a decision that left an elderly employee locked out of the Madison Building every morning; at another, Creations officials called the police on an angry union representative.

Library employees have criticized the agency for hiring I.L. Creations, which signed a short-term contract with the Library after negotiations fell through with previous food vendor Sodexo. Library officials argued that they were not responsible for the cafeteria workers, since they are not Library employees.

The new contract with FAME helps put that disagreement to rest. Some cafeteria employees have even gotten their jobs back, after Creations offered settlements in recent weeks.

Willie Price is one of those employees. After working at the Library for 27 years, she was fired six months ago for storing outside food in the company’s refrigerator and “violently— throwing silverware into a pile after polishing it, among other things.

She spent months appealing the company’s decision and fighting for unemployment benefits (a case she recently won). Library employees raised $4,000 to help her pay the bills in the meantime.

She will begin work again on July 20.

“I’m happy to go back,— she said Tuesday, adding that the Library’s unions and groups such as Blacks in Government helped her tremendously. “My work ethic is regardless of who’s there, I work for them. If they look good, I look good.—

Union officials said Tuesday that they were relieved that FAME would be taking over. The company has contracts at federal facilities such as the Government Printing Office and the Department of Labor and thus works with the same union that has been in constant battle with I.L. Creations.

John Boardman, vice president of UNITE HERE Local 25, said he was “pleased— with the Library’s decision to sign on FAME.

“While unions and employers sometimes disagree, we don’t find them disagreeable,— he said. “They understand the legitimacy of the labor union.—

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