This report comes to us from the USAS Campus Worker Justice Tour, a series of visits to campuses around the country where students and workers are fighting back against corporate outsourcing and the exploitation of campus workers.
By Rigoberto Campos, student at UIUC
Last week USAS members at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign held a “Worker Speak Out” to bring awareness to the issues our campus workers facing. Right now our service workers represented by SEIU and graduate students represented by the Graduate Employees’ Organization (AFT/IFT #6300) are fighting for a fair contract, and we have pledged to support them until they win. At the event students were eager and curious to find out how to support their campus workers, which created an inspirational atmosphere for us all. Since we have started a chapter at at Urbana-Champaign, we have been meeting weekly to discuss how we can support campus workers and bring awareness to this issue.
We have spoken to workers who have dedicated over 20 years of service to the University, yet they still struggle to make ends meet. Our food service workers are temporarily laid off four times a year, and do not qualify for unemployment. During that time our workers have to fight just to pay their bills and stay in their homes, a truly unimaginable endeavor. Our graduate students at UIUC also face obstacles in their role as teachers and workers. Graduate student tuition waivers are being toyed with, and the administration keeps putting off and avoiding contract negotiations.
However, our new USAS chapter at UIUC has been taking necessary steps to bring students and workers together to pressure the administration into giving all workers a fair contract. Last month Keavy McFadden, a Regional Organizer for USAS who goes to school at DePaul University, visited campus and helped us make a plan for the year. We are ready to do whatever it takes to support our workers, and we can see that our commitment is gaining traction. We will continue to show and build support for our workers at UIUC.