On November 15, 2017, my co-workers and I attended the Shelton Board of Education meeting to deliver over 500 signatures on a petition of community support for our campaign.
Before the meeting, we held a candlelight demonstration outside the building and sang the classic civil-rights era song “We Shall Not be Moved.” The lyrics of this song accurately reflect our determination to protect our jobs.
I gave brief remarks at the meeting, which I want to share with the Shelton community as an update on our campaign:
“Hello, my name is Barbara Jelacic. I have been a Shelton resident for over 30 years. I’m a mother of three children who have gone through the Shelton school system. I am also a Lead at Long Hill School. I love my job. It brings much satisfaction to nourish the children of this town. You get to know the families and recognize siblings as children move through the school system. The children also recognize and appreciate us. There is much longevity in our school cafeterias. My 40 co-workers and I have dedicated our lives to serving Shelton school children.
Prior to this year we have always felt that our work in the cafeterias was an extension of the Board of Education. Unfortunately, now we feel that as though the Board of Education has tossed us to the curb. Through no fault of our own, we stand to lose up to 10-12% of our small incomes. For me, that would mean losing $3,000 dollars a year in gross income. We also stand to lose the affordable medical insurance. This is creating a crisis for many families. Our families depend on the modest income and benefits that these jobs have always provided. Our paid time off provides security when school is not in session. And losing health insurance will decimate families.
I’m here tonight to deliver over 500 signatures from members of our community. The people of this town care who is serving their child lunch. Serving lunch to the children of this town is not a for-profit business. It is a service provided by the women here tonight—with love and care.
We implore the Board of Education to use your power to demand that Whitsons protect Shelton families.
My co-workers and I will not give up.”
The writer is a cafeteria worker in Shelton public schools.