More than 50 students from the Georgetown Solidarity Committee and campus facilities workers delivered a petition to University President John J. DeGioia’s office yesterday demanding better work and wage conditions as the university continues contract negotiations with 1199 Service Employee International Union, the labor union representing Georgetown’s facilities workers.
Students marched from Red Square to DeGioia’s office to deliver the petition carrying posters with messages including “Justice forFacilities Workers” and “Georgetown Gets an F in Labor Justice.”
The union and the university must reach an agreement on a new contract or agree to further extend negotiations by Oct. 30 to avoid a strike. The two groups have been negotiating a new contract since early September.
Signed by over 1000 community members online since Sept. 28, the petition demands “raises that cover the cost of living and inflation, sufficient staff assigned to each task and work order, accountability for managers that engage in intimidation or discriminatory tactics, workplaces that are healthy and safe and accommodation for the language needs of all workers.”
The petition drop comes after a demonstration on main campus the same day and a demonstration at the Georgetown University Law Center on Sept. 14.
Facilities workers are pushing the university for a 6 percent annual wage increase and similar parking and health benefits to workers at Georgetown University MedStar Hospital. Facilities workers currently pay $140 a month for parking and $15 for health care visits.
The university is currently offering workers a 2 percent wage increase alongside a 6 percent increase in health care benefits.
A facilities worker who requested to remain anonymous and who serves on the workers’ bargaining committee for contract negotiations, said the purpose of the march was to send a message to university administration that workers and students are standing together to promote justice and transparency.
“From my perspective, I’ve been here for a long time, most of the workers here at Georgetown do a great job, work really hard and are very diligent, and so we deserve these fair wages and working conditions,” the worker said. “It’s time that the university treats us with fairness. Just give us a decent wage that we can live by. That’s why we’re here, to make sure that we can get a decent living wage, a living wage that will allow us to provide and take care of our families.”
GSC member Sophia Bauerschmidt Sweeney (COL ’17), who helped organize the rally, said she was unhappy with the university’s unwillingness to compromise with workers.
“The negotiations have been going on since June, and the university has not given anything,” Bauerschmidt Sweeney said. “It’s been like five months now and the university has been completely unyielding in negotiations, and so we’re trying to exert some pressure from the outside so that they listen to workers’ concerns and so that they will be willing to cooperate in those conversations.”
Senior Director of Strategic Communications Rachel Pugh said the university is committed to reaching a fair agreement with university workers throughout their contract negotiations.
“We are committed to providing fair and competitive compensation packages for all University employees,” Pugh 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.”
Vincent DeLaurentis (SFS ’17), who attended the rally, said students support the workers in ensuring fair treatment on a universitywide scale.
“I think it’s important for students to act in solidarity with workers because our fates at this university are really tied up,” DeLaurentis said. “We have a common enemy: these leeches, these administrators who raise our tuition and exploit our workers. So I think as a student it’s important to come out and show that we stand with workers and not the people who sit in their offices and make six-figure salaries.”
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