Members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee led a demonstration outside Healy Hall on Wednesday responding to what they described as the administration’s inaction on providing a “living wage” to contracted workers.

Dressed in black with dollar bills taped over their mouths, the demonstrators stood silently, holding signs that called for greater representation in the campus community for non-university employees who work under contract with Georgetown.

Ten students congregated outside Healy for 15-minute intervals beginning every hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wednesday’s demonstration came as a direct response to a comment that Solidarity members allege Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Spiros Dimolitsas made Tuesday regarding the involvement of contracted workers in the Advisory Committee on Business Practices.

According to GSC member Ginny Leavell (COL ’05), Dimolitsas said that these contracted workers were not part of the Georgetown community, a charge the university denied.

“This comment was taken completely out of context,” university spokeswoman Laura Cavender said yesterday. “Dr. Dimolitsas embraces as a valued part of our community contract employees.”

GSC members met with Dimolitsas and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord, also a committee member, yesterday to finalize the constitution of the Advisory Committee and ensure that all workers would be represented.

“Everyone who works here every day at Georgetown should be a part of that community,” GSC member Mike Wilson (COL’05) said. “They want to discuss issues without the people who are going to be affected by them”

According to Wilson, the Advisory Committee’s constitution was amended to unambiguously require that a contracted employee be included as a voting member. Previously, the constitution of the Advisory Committee had allowed for a contracted employee to be included, provided that this was legally possible with the employee’s company of hire.

Cavender said that a contracted worker from P&R will be included on the committee as a voting member, starting at the committee’s first meeting next Friday.

“Dr. Dimolitsas looks forward to beginning the committee’s important work,” Cavender said.

Created in spring 2003 following meetings between GSC members, Dimolitsas, Porterfield and other faculty members, the Advisory Committee on Business Ethics works to address issues surrounding workers’ rights at Georgetown.

Other committee members include administrators, faculty members, Jesuits, and one facilities worker directly employed by Georgetown.

Wilson said he felt that the Wednesday’s demonstration contributed to yesterday’s meeting and the university’s agreement to allow a contracted worker on the committee.

“It’s too bad that we have to consistently do public actions before the administration does something,” he said.

Contracted workers, who include employees of P&R Enterprises, Marriott, and eFollett, perform duties ranging from late-night janitorial work to food services on campus.

They receive different compensation and benefits than Georgetown employees.

Recent dialogue between the administration and GSC members on workers’ rights issues resulted in a wage increase for P&R employees.

Cavender said that Dimolitsas recommended and helped to implement the wage increase, which set the wages of all contracted employees at $8.50 an hour, and guaranteed that P&R would research employee healthcare plans and allow the employees a healthcare option by December.

Wednesday’s demonstration was part of the GSC’s ongoing Living Wage Campaign, a movement to work with the administration to enact a “living wage,” or a sustainable hourly wage for all workers on campus that will cover their living expenses entirely.

Due to the high costs of living in the Washington, D.C., area, many employees work multiple low-paying jobs just to afford basic living expenses.

The GSC plans to hold more demonstrations in the coming weeks to raise awareness of the living wage issue.

“More visible actions can hopefully garner more campus support,” GSC member Molly Tafoya (COL ’07) said.

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