A petition supporting the Georgetown University Hospital service and maintenance staff in its continued contract negotiations with edStar Health was presented to Georgetown University Medical Center President Joy Drass Thursday afternoon. It was signed by 1,580 members of the student body and written by the Georgetown University Solidarity Committee.

“I would like it to demonstrate to MedStar that students are carefully watching negotiations and that they really support the workers in their very just demands,” GSC member Nick Laskowski (COL ’03) said. “I don’t expect a handful of signatures to have a huge effect, but it will certainly move things along.”

Although Drass was not present at the time, the approximately 90-page petition was left with her receptionist. It has yet to be officially acknowledged, GSC member Mike Wilson (COL ’05) said.

“The whole point is to show that students care about the issue . as the hospital is reevaluating its position, the students will be there to support the workers.”

There have been approximately eight bargaining sessions between the Georgetown University Hospital, owned by the public non-profit organization MedStar Health, and the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 E-D.C., representing the service and maintenance staff. Hospital administration requested time to reassess its position following the last meeting, SEIU Union Representative Eliyahu Rabin said.

“MedStar continues to wait, which means it’s unlikely they’ll act in the near future,” Laskowski said. “They’ve had many opportunities to come to the table.”

On a more positive note for the workers, however, it was recently announced that the international SEIU organization pledged its support for the workers of Georgetown University Hospital in their self-proclaimed fight for respect and dignity.

“In your struggle to win a fair contract at MedStar Health’s Georgetown University Hospital, be assured that the commitment and resources of the 1.6 million members of SEIU are with you,” International President Andrew Stern wrote in a letter to Local 1199 E-D.C. “We will support your efforts to convince MedStar and Georgetown that `if you take one of us on, you take all of us on.'”

SEIU International support further legitimizes the position of the service and maintenance workers and will aid their struggle by contributing financial resources.

“We’re still waiting to come back to the bargaining table,” Rabin said. “Hopefully, they [GU Hospital] will reassess their position and come back in good faith.”

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