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Announcement :: Labor
Brandeis Labor Coalition Press Release
30 Mar 2004
Following in the footsteps of a growing trend on college and university campuses, students of Brandeis University have begun to take responsibility for the rights of campus employees. The Brandeis Labor Coalition is currently working with the university administration, Hurley of America, and its employees to create a permanent code of fair and just labor practices by means of advocacy. Hurley of America is one of the companies that Brandeis outsources its janitorial labor to, currently employing 11 people on campus.
Following in the footsteps of a growing trend on college and university campuses, students of Brandeis University have begun to take responsibility for the rights of campus employees. The Brandeis Labor Coalition is currently working with the university administration, Hurley of America, and its employees to create a permanent code of fair and just labor practices by means of advocacy. Hurley of America is one of the companies that Brandeis outsources its janitorial labor to, currently employing 11 people on campus.

Brandeis is just one of the many institutions whose student body has taken action against unfair labor practices. Many student organizations have become involved in establishing living wage campaigns in order to provide workers on their campus with salaries that would allow for decent living standards, in addition to benefits. Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Tufts, Emerson, and Brown are just a few of over thirty documented institutions that are currently running living wage campaigns. Many universities have also been taking notice of unethical labor practices. In 2000, Wesleyan students victoriously passed a Labor Code of Conduct to ensure fair labor practices to its janitorial employees. In the greater Boston area alone, there are thirteen colleges and universities, including Brandeis, that are actively involved in the Boston Student Labor Action Project (SLAP). This regional trend is indicative of a growing concern for worker’s rights and corporate responsibility.

The mission of the BLC is to permanently establish fair and just labor practices for university employees. In the spring of 2002, concerned students began to collect information from university employees about particular worker grievances. Since then, the BLC has been actively seeking the induction of fair labor practices at Brandeis, known as the Guiding Principles of Labor Practices at Brandeis University. Every week (Tuesday at 8:00 pm in the Shapiro Campus Center), the BLC meets to discuss new developments, ideas, and strategies for implementation of these new guidelines. In addition, two Hurley employees come and express any new grievances or complaints they have. A Spanish translator is present at each meeting, and thus the lines of communication between the BLC and Hurley employees are always open.

The Brandeis University mission statement proclaims that “the University that carries the name of the justice who stood for the rights of individuals must be distinguished…by truth pursued wherever it may lead, and by awareness of the power and responsibilities that come with knowledge.” The BLC aims to uphold this statement, and has been productively working with the administration and Hurley of America to do so, and to set a just and permanent standard of working conditions on campus. As stakeholders in the university, students have the influence and leverage to demand such ethical practices of labor. By raising awareness on campus about fair labor practices, in addition to current labor standards around the globe, the BLC hopes to increase student and community involvement in its mission. The long-term goal of the BLC is to foster lines of communication between Brandeis employees, the administration, and the companies that campus labor is outsourced to so that the intermediary role of the BLC is no longer required. Like the other numerous universities and colleges that have taken a position of advocacy on behalf of their employees, Brandeis will be held in high esteem and serve as an example for other institutions to look towards.

The BLC has already made progress with the university administration and Hurley, who have been responsive to the requests of this student advocacy group. Communication between all parties involved, which is an essential part of this process, has been underway since February. In addition, much activity will be happening within the next few weeks to strengthen support for the cause.
On April 18th, a resolution will be introduced to the Student Senate requesting student approval for the implementation of the Guiding Principles of Fair Labor Practices at Brandeis University. This will officially begin the campus-wide publicity and education campaign on labor practices at Brandeis.
On April 20th, there will be a teach-in about the BLC’s campus movement in Pearlman Hall at 7:00pm.
On April 22nd, the same resolution presented to the Student Senate will be introduced to the Faculty Senate.
By April 25th, the BLC anticipates Senate approval.
On April 30th, there will be a Worker Appreciation Barbeque to display student and community support. This is also the target date for administration approval of the Guiding Principles of Fair Labor.

As an institution that has historically been on the forefront of student activism and advocacy, Brandeis University is once again working towards an exemplary level of social justice. The BLC is optimistic that the Guiding Principles of Fair Labor will have a strong impact on future labor practices both on campus and elsewhere. To learn more about the BLC, please visit www.people.brandeis.edu/~labor, or email brandeislabor (at) lists.brandeis.edu. The BLC meets at 8:00pm on Tuesdays in the Women’s Resource Center, located on the third floor of the Shapiro Campus Center. The BLC encourages and welcomes all who are interested to attend.

This work is in the public domain.
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