There is a vast injustice happening right here under our noses on campus.
Over the last year Aramark cleaning service workers have been forced to work an additional 5,000 square feet per day. This occurred at the urging of the AU administration, which agreed to add four off-campus buildings to Aramark’s contract if the company would not hire new workers.
Many workers have complained of serious back pains and exhaustion as a result of the workloads but are expected to clean the additional space in the same 8-hour shifts without any additional pay. If they cannot, they are faced with disciplinary actions including firing.
Over the last month, the Student Worker Alliance has been organizing around this issue of exploitation on our campus and has brought student and worker concerns to the attention of President Neil Kerwin. However, even when faced with these serious facts, President Kerwin has chosen to ignore them and refer the matter to Aramark management.
As a University that prides itself on our supposed “commitment to social justice,” we have an imperative to act even when it is not the standard. I would think that an institution such as ours would want to set ourselves ahead of all other universities and not use their exploitative practices as a benchmark for our own.
There is a time when a university administration is bound to act. That time is now. President Kerwin and the rest of the administration cannot sit idly by and ignore the very serious injustices occurring on our campus.
Therefore, we, the Student Worker Alliance and the over 250 students who have shown their support through signing our petitions, calling the presidents office and attending our events and rallies, call upon President Kerwin to make a strong statement in support of workers’ rights at AU. We have proposed to him to insert a standard into the new Aramark contract being negotiated over the summer that would limit daily workloads at last year’s standard of 22,000 square feet and prevent it from increasing as we move forward with the Campus Plan.
We hope that President Kerwin chooses to do the right thing and respect the workers who make sure our University runs as smooth as it does.
Junior in SPA
Member of the Student-Worker Alliance.