School cafeteria workers claim firing was retaliation for roles in union

Lisa Schiedel and Roseanne Paternostro

ANGOLA, N.Y. (WIVB)- Between the two of them, Lisa Schiedel and Roseanne Paternostro have almost 30 years of experience working in cafeterias at the Lake Shore Central School District.

That why hearing they were suspended, and then terminated in late May, came as a major surprise.

“I was shocked. I was shocked,” Schiedel told News 4.

The official reason listed by Personal Touch Food Services, who contracts workers out to local districts, state the women were fired for theft of company property and lying on their time sheets.

But the women told News 4 that never happened, nor has company shown them any proof.

They also mentioned they’ve never received any warnings prior or being suspended.

Support signs near Lake Shore School District in Angola
Support signs near Lake Shore School District in Angola

“They have not given us any verification of anything, just that we don’t have a job,” Schiedel said.

Both women believe the real reason they were fired because they had recently taken on more active roles in their union.

They’re currently collecting unemployment, but that will run out next month.

“It’s been hard. Raising kids, you have to cut back a lot. You don’t have the money for this or that, it’s been tough,” Paternostro said.

What’s tougher though, is feeling they were targeted.

“I think it’s because we joined the bargaining committee for our union,” Paternostro told News 4.

News 4 reached out to Personal Touch Food Services. President David Cervi said in a statement: “From the beginning, the union has positioned the terminations as retaliation for union activity.”

Cervi wouldn’t comment further, stating it’s an internal personnel matter. He did however, confirm the two women were terminated in May.

Both women said they had positive relationships with both children and school staff members, and never underwent major disciplinary action in the past.

Local community members are speaking out the women’s behalf. Dozens of people have shown support for them via social media and with yard signs that read “Personal Touch: We Stand With Lisa and Roseanne.”

The women hope community pressure leads to getting them their jobs back.

Until that happens, they told News 4 they won’t stop speaking out.

Both cases are going to arbitration in the next couple months.

The women’s union representative told News 4 is the dispute is not settled, legal action via a Labor Board charge against personal touch is not out of the question.

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