Thursday, April 26, 2012

Emory Students and Workers in Solidarity Turns up The Heat.

The past month has shown a flurry of organizing from Emory University Students and Workers in Solidarity (SWS).

On April 5th SWS hosted a forum titled "What is a Union?"
Panelists included:

Dianne Mathiowetz - Retired United Auto Worker (UAW) member
Dr. Jonathon Prude - Labor Historian at Emory University
Laura Emiko Soltis - Member of SWS speaking about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)
Eric Robertson - Political Director Teamsters Local 728
Ernest Talley - Shop Steward at AT&T, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3204
Gary Cameron - Former President of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)

Elizabeth Hennig a freshman at Emory University and member of SWS moderated the forum.  She posed questions to the panelists and they answered according to their experience.  The dialogue included multiple perspectives on the development of the labor movement in the United States to concrete organizing battles both past and present for dignity and respect on the job.  The speakers weaved a tapestry of experience, concrete struggle, power, and wisdom for a room of students normally isolated to academic exercise.  The audience asked the panelists questions to round up the night.

Building off of the energy of the "What is a Union" forum and an editorial written in the Emory Wheel (The School's Newspaper) about the unaddressed unequal worker treatment on campus and the continued prosecution of 7 Emory students, SWS continues to gain momentum...

On April 11th (one day before the arraignment of the 7 arrested students) SWS held a press conference on the Emory quadrangle where 7 students were arrested while sitting peacefully protesting unequal working conditions on campus.

Students facing up to one year in jail articulated their stance: Students were arrested because the Emory administration did not agree with their political message.  Instead of arresting peaceful student protestors, Emory should take steps to stop the two-tiered labor system on campus where contracted workers are treated as second class citizens.  Contracted workers do not receive free MARTA passes like all other full time campus workers, do not receive any tuition subsidies for their children to attend Emory like all other full time campus workers and have faced aggressive intimidation by management when they try to organize.

This press conference garnered media coverage and public scrutiny around the Emory administration's poor decisions:

Creative Loafing Coverage - "Emory students face charges for congregating where students congregate"

April marks the month where thousands of prospective Emory students come to visit campus with their families.  These campus visits are critical regarding the prospective student's decision to attend Emory or not and therefore Emory desperately wants to portray itself as a perfect institution of higher learning.  Keep in mind that each student will end up paying Emory University about $200,000, or not.

Emory SWS has been leafletting prospective students and their families with pertinent information regarding the prosecution of its own students and the labor inequalities on campus.  Prospective students and their parents are eager to learn more about Emory than what the admission's office wants to tell them.

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1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that if contract workers want the same benefits as Emory employees, then they should seek to work for Emory instead of a contractor.
    Though they do not receive the same benefits as an Emory employee, they chose to work for the contractor understanding their pay and benefits. If Emory students want these contractors to get all the benefits that a normal Emory employee enjoys, then tuition would have to be increased on every student to pay for such benefits. So, is SWS pushing to have tuition increased to pay for these benefits?


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