AU worker’s rights activists announce TDR worker’s hours restored after cuts earlier this semester
Members of the AU Student Worker Alliance, Student Government and others supporting AU workers stood together on the steps of Mary Graydon Center Friday afternoon to announce that Aramark had agreed to restore TDR workers’ hours that had been cut at the beginning of the semester.
Students had initially planned to deliver a letter to Aramark management with a message protesting worker conditions. However, just before the letter was set to be read, Carlos Vera, who started the Exploited Wonk campaign in April of last year, and Emma-Claire Martin of Student Worker Alliance announced that the hours would be restored.
Martin called the event a “celebration” but encouraged students to continue working to improve conditions for workers.
“Take this victory and let it fuel the fight for justice in the workplace. Let it motivate you to keep the conversation going,” Martin said. “We cannot let our celebration turn into complacency.”
Following the announcement, student leaders from various clubs attended a meeting with Director of AU Dining, Ken Chadwick.
The event drew about 30 attendees, including representatives from Student Government, the Residence Hall Association, the Community Action and Social Justice Coalition, AU Dems and AU’s newly reinstated chapter of the NAACP.
Following the announcement, organizers and student leaders met privately with Director of AU Dining, Ken Chadwick, for a continued discussion inside MCG. Students were also able to ask questions of Chadwick, whom Vera described as an “ally.”
“Worker exploitation is a community issue,” Vera said during the announcement. “The majority of the workers are here because they love their job. They see it as a duty. They know you guys are far away from your house, and they want to feed you.”
Vera emphasized the importance of student involvement in pressuring the administration for better conditions for workers. He cited instances where AU made changes for workers as a result of student pressure, like the announcement of the death of TDR worker Tijuana Saunders earlier this year. AU made no announcement to the community about Saunder’s death until after students became upset by the lapse, The Eagle previously reported.
After making the announcement, Vera spoke to The Eagle about the progress achieved by student involvement.
“You need thirty hours to get health and retirement benefits, and many of them [the workers] were cut somehow to twenty-eight hours, which is kind of fishy. Some were even cut to seventeen hours,” Vera said. “There was a guy on a three-hour shift. His commute is a hour and a half long and he only had a three-hour shift.”
Vera also said he has continued goals in his fight for worker’s rights.
“The next step is education, for them [the workers] to be able to take classes and for their children to come here. There’s a lot of work to be done, but right now, we need to rejoice,” he said.