Ok, so a couple of us students have created a makeshift grapevine to keep all of those who have contacted me in recent weeks abreast in the affairs of the labor union and BA. USLAC is starting to become active although at this time I couldn’t tell you who is in charge or who you should contact. If anyone from USLAC wants to come out and lead the peoples, please leave a comment or shoot me an email at hwood@wes.
So Alan Yaspan ’08 sent me two interesting articles about Bon Appetit’s practices at other schools
From an interview with a student activist at Washington University-St. Louis
- Once you began to research the employment practices of Washington University, what did you find out? What findings worried the group most?
The most disturbing findings were like the fact that Bon Appetit food service workers had missed a union vote by one vote due to threats from administration and managers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision against Bon Appetit saying that because of their unlawful union busting they had to post an apology on the wall, which they never did anyway! And the administration supported, and even helped coordinate this.
We also learned that a Sociology student doing research on some of these income issues a few years ago was threatened with suspension if she didn’t sign documents, given to her by the chancellor, saying that she would in no way release her findings.
And finally we learned that, of course, almost every service worker at our school was making poverty wages, much less than the prevailing wage at other schools in our area, despite the fact that we have maybe the 5th largest endowment nationwide and certainly the largest in our area. It was too much. By the time we realized that it would take .01% of our endowment to pay a living wage, we decided that it was time to move forward in a dramatic way.
Per usual, we got sucked into school committees, commissioned to decide whether our arguments were logical and possible. And despite the fact that the admin picked every student, faculty, and administrative member of the committee, they unanimously voted to support a living wage.
The chancellor unilaterally struck this recommendation down by November of 2004 (taking over 6 months to “consider” the committee’s recommendation), and at that point we knew the dialogue had to end and we needed to escalate in a way that made it clear the chancellor could not wait us out by hoping the agitation to end with our graduation.
We settled on a living wage because every issue workers complained about (no healthcare, inability to form a union if so desired, having to work two or three jobs just to survive, lack of dignity, etc) would be covered under our conception of a living wage policy. It wouldn’t leave any loopholes.
And another article talks about an employee bringing up another suit with the National Labor Relations Board for what he alleged was being unlawfully fired for union activity.
Both of these articles contend that BA has a pretty ominous record so far as unions go…