A petition has been circulating around campus, aiming to support dining workers. At the time of writing, the petition has gained 444 concerned students signatures. The petition was shared with the public in late November and was spread virtually.
According to the petition, there are four main goals that they are trying to achieve. Firstly, they want Brandeis to “guarantee the job security of current dining service workers, even if Brandeis chooses to change contractors.” They also want the university to “honor the current union contracts of all dining service workers, even if Brandeis chooses to change contractors.”
Additionally, the petition wants the university to pledge to “work with the current unionized workers for all dining, catering, and event services instead of hiring outside non-unionized workers.” Finally, to “eplace the clause (3.3 Exclusive) in the dining contract to guarantee exclusive catering to the current dining staff without exemptions or conditions.”
“As students and community members, we are concerned about the job security of our current dining service workers,” reads the petition. This was started because the organizers recently learned that the university “has been hiring outside contractors and temporary workers to cater events,” instead of employing union catering workers. According to the petition those are workers that are not union workers and therefore are not protected. The petition states that “by doing this, Brandeis University has chosen profit over the livelihood and welfare of its dining service workers.”
According to the petition, because of this, the jobs of the workers, who “have worked for Brandeis for decades and have fought to have fair wages and benefits,” are now at risk. Students are bringing this to the university’s attention because the dining union can negotiate with Sodexo, but not with the university.
Therefore the union cannot influence Brandeis’ decisions. “As students, we are uniquely positioned to influence Brandeis’ decision making, as we are the ones who pay tuition,” reads the petition, saying that it is the students’ responsibility to “ensure that Brandeis cares for its employees, and pays them living wages with good benefits.”
A rally in support of the petition was held on Dec. 1 at the bottom of Rabb Steps on campus at 5:30 p.m. About 15 community members gathered around the concerned dining workers. A sign was put up on Rabb stairs reading, “Protect those who feed us. Support dining workers.” Concerned community members were able to talk with the dining workers who attended the rally.
At the rally, a table was set up with computers where community members could sign the virtual petition. In addition to the rally, flyers with QR codes to the petition have been put up around campus in order to gain signatures in support and awareness to community members on campus.
The petition is sponsored by the Brandeis Leftist Union, the Brandeis Labor Coalition and the Brandeis Nordic Skiing Team. The petition was signed by 14 concerned student groups, two faculty members, 19 concerned alumni, eight concerned parents and 22 concerned locals. At the time of publication, the university did not respond to the petition.
The petition’s demands are targeted at university president Ron Liebowitz and Director of University Services Jeffrey Hershberger. The wider Brandeis community is also referenced in the email to take part in this issue.