The university administrators had a talk with community members concerned with dining workers’ rights on Friday, March 18 inside Bernstein Marcus Administration Center. The meeting was meant to be a follow-up to an earlier rally and demands brought to administrators on March 11, according to a previous Brandeis Hoot article.
“Community members should be aware of the power that students and workers hold on this campus and what we can accomplish when we organize and demonstrate together,” Joshua Benson ’23, a member of the BLU who attended the conversation, said in an interview with The Hoot.
There are four main demands curated by community members, according to the Brandeis Leftist Union’s (BLU) Instagram page. The first is that the catering contract is exclusive to union workers; this demand arose from the university hiring non-union workers to work at smaller catering events. The second demand is to uphold the union’s contract with dining workers; this is a concern as the university is in the middle of the new dining vendor selection process. The third demand is transparency; dining workers have not been informed on decisions made about catering events and have also not been involved in the dining contractor selection process, according to the BLU’s post. The final demand is that the dining workers be represented as the selection process continues so they may, “have a seat at the table,” according to the post.
Benson said that from the meeting, concerned community members wanted to emphasize the importance of language regarding catering exclusivity in the dining workers’ contract. When asked what they hoped to accomplish Benson wrote, “we intended to relay the specific language around catering exclusivity and the feedback of the forum to the admin.”
According to Benson, the university administration who attended the discussion were Lois Stanley, Vice President for Campus Planning and Operations and Raymond Ou, Vice President of Student Affairs. At the time of publication, administrators had not made an official statement in response to the demands brought to them by community members, according to Benson. Benson explained to The Hoot that the university would be issuing its response to their demands on March 25.
“We will see how productive the meeting was this coming Friday [March 25] when the university offers its official response and action plan regarding the conversation with [Stanley] and [Ou] last Friday,” Benson wrote to The Hoot.
Benson wrote to The Hoot that he hopes the university’s statement with their plan of action regarding dining workers incorporates the concerned community members’ demands with language around catering exclusivity. The university’s response, according to Benson, will influence the response of the concerned student group.
“Their response will determine the next steps, if they give us everything we want, our next step is to celebrate, if they don’t, then we escalate,” they wrote to The Hoot.
Leading up to this meeting, concerned community members gathered on multiple days. The first rally to defend dining workers with these demands in mind was held on Feb.18. A sit-in was then held on March 11 inside the Bernstein Marcus Administration building.
The Hoot reached out to Julie Jette—Assistant Vice President of Communications to receive comments from administrators on their thoughts regarding the meeting but did not receive a response by the time of publication.