GSC Demands Workers’ Rights

FILE PHOTO: DAN GANNON/THE HOYA The Georgetown Solidarity Committee rallied in 2015 to support Aramark employees during contract negotiations with Aramark management.

The Georgetown Solidarity Committee rallied in 2015 to support Aramark employees during contract negotiations with Aramark management.

As the union representing facilities workers continues contract negotiations with the university, student advocacy group Georgetown Solidarity Committee has accumulated more than 400 signatures from members of the community on a petition to push the university to address a series of contract demands, including a 5 percent raise and further raises tied to the cost of inflation.

The petition — launched online on Sept. 28 — will run for the next few weeks, according to GSC organizers. GSC hopes to obtain 1,000 signatures before submitting the petition to university administrators.

The petition is part of a campaign to promote awareness of ongoing contract negotiations. The university has been negotiating terms for a new labor contract with the Service Employees International Union 1199 Union Local since early September.

GSC is pushing the university to offer workers raises that are tied to cost of living increases and inflation. The university is currently offering a 2 percent increase in wages over the course of three years. GSC and Union 1199 are pushing for a 5 percent raise.

GSC members have also specified goals of ending understaffing and alleged racism and discrimination in the workplace and a minimum wage starting at $15 per hour.

The District’s minimum wage is currently $11.50 and will reach $15 by 2020.

University Media Relations Manager Ryan King said Georgetown is searching for a fair compensation package and hopes to finalize a deal soon.

“We are committed to providing fair and competitive compensation packages for all university employees,” King wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We have a long history of collective bargaining with 1199SEIU and we have reached mutually acceptable collective bargaining agreements with the union in every negotiation.”

Students can sign the petition in person at Red Square on Wednesdays and through an online Google form advertised on the GSC Facebook page.

GSC also organized rallies and protests near McShain Lounge in McCarthy Hall, the site of ongoing negotiations, on Sept. 22, the site of the ongoing negotiations. The group also published and distributed pamphlets outside O’Donovan Hall seeking to educate students and workers about the goals of the negotiations.

Though GSC has raised awareness on issues pertaining to understaffing and the mistreatment of workers, the negotiations are mostly centered around the increase in wages.

GSC member Joseph Gomez  (SFS ’19) said the petition aims to raise student awareness and remind the administration that students care about workers on campus.

“Because it’s the beginning of the year, we want to reinvigorate student support for workers and to show administration that students on campus support the workers,” Gomez said.

Previously, the organization has used petitions in conjunction with coordinated campaign efforts.

In 2013, GSC disseminated petitions in an effort to persuade the university to cut its sportswear manufacturing contract with Nike after the company was accused of worker’s rights violations.

GSC organized a petition drive in 2015 as part of a campaign that sought for improved work and wage conditions for Aramark workers during their contract renegotiations with Aramark. Aramark employees and management agreed to a contract in April 2015, which includes a 40-hour paid work week, plans for unionization and less expensive health insurance.

Joshueua Pena (COL ’17) said he hopes this campaign succeeds in advocating for workers’ rights, but he remains cynical about its impact.

“They’ve done this stuff before and nothing changed, maybe slightly, but not a huge impact,” Pena said.

Pena said workers’ issues require more than student activism.

“This is an ongoing issue that’s not going to be solved by petition. It needs something more drastic,” Pena said. “I appreciate the effort, but they are not having a tangible impact.”

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One Comment

  1. funny that this piece didn’t quote any workers, but decided to interview someone who probably doesn’t know any workers and definitely doesn’t lift a finger to fight on their behalf

    smug liberals at the Hoya at it again with their meaningless moralizing

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