College labor forum set for May 10

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May 8, 2007

11:01 AM

p. College President Gene Nichol has established a College workers’ rights forum set for May 10 in the University Center Tidewater A.

p. The forum will address concerns for hourly wage workers at the College, specifically their right to organize. The forum will also aim to establish a more open dialogue between the College and its workers.

p. The forum comes almost two weeks after a May 1, Tidewater Labor Support Committee rally, which gave College President Gene Nichol a three-day ultimatum to address workers’ concerns about their right to organize.

p. The TLSC calls this the Right to Organize Code of Conduct Campaign. They want to ensure that the College will not prevent workers from organizing. They also hope to institute meet-and-confer sessions, where workers and employers would meet to address issues.

p. “The Right to Organize code of conduct basically says that the College and its subcontractors will not engage in union-busting tactics, and the College will engage in meet-and-confer sessions with its direct employees,” freshman Alex Leach, a member of TLSC, said.

p. TLSC works for all service, hourly-wage staff workers on campus, including housekeepers, dining services, groundskeepers and facilities management. Leach estimates that they work with around 70 to 80 workers.

p. They have collected over 700 student signatures in support of the RTO code. They have also been holding rallies and other events to raise awareness and have had meetings with the administration. At the May 1 rally, about 60 students and 40 workers attended.

p. “We marched to the President’s office to present him with the grievances that we had collected from the workers,” Leach said.

p. They told him he had three days to act upon the grievances or TLSC would institute direct action Friday when the Queen and national press were on campus.

p. “As you have seen, Nichol did eventually make a move, creating his forum for this Thursday,” Leach said. “I am personally pleased with the decision and think it is a good beginning step to helping worker’s grievances.”

p. The structure of Thursday’s forum has not been established, which is a source of dissatisfaction for the TLSC.

p. “This is something that TLSC is more disappointed about. Nichol has all the power over this forum, and we have not been included on how it will be structured. This is something we are disappointed in, and think is one thing that Nichol needs to work on, and is lacking in this plan,” Leach said.

p. But overall they are happy to see their campaign going somewhere.

p. “I feel this is definitely a more positive step in the right direction. Nichol is at least doing something now to address workers’ grievances, which we are glad about,” Leach said.

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