From The Hartford Network for Solidarity
Workers, students and community supporters will join the custodial workers of Wesleyan University for their lunch break outside of school President Michael Roth’s office in the South College building, from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM on Friday June 14th. The building is at the heart of campus, along the College Row walking path which runs between Wyllys Avenue and Church Street. Eatin participants hope to discuss critical concerns with working conditions and treatment.
Over a year since Sun Services LLC took over management of custodial operations, working conditions and management’s respect toward the mainly Latino workers have deteriorated, with no accountability from the university administration, who is responsible for ensuring that the elite institution’s purported commitment to social justice is realized. On top of an aggressive and threatening disposition from Sun Services’ supervisors, the company has also seen fit to increase the workload leading to increased injuries, and provided workers with harmful cleaning chemicals which leave their employees sick for days or weeks at a time, despite the stipulation in the union contract that they ensure safe working conditions. One worker, speaking anonymously, said “If I need to stay home for two weeks, nobody pays me, not even workers' compensation. We told them so many times, the chemicals are so strong, and they haven't changed the chemicals. This has happened to so many of us. We have to use our personal days when that happens. We can't call out sick, because if you call out more than two times a week, they'll fire you.”
Most recently, Sun Services management has begun a process of forcing workers to re-apply for their own jobs, at a reduced number of available positions. This roundabout way of laying off workers is part of a pattern of management’s bad faith in upholding the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, which the company inherited when they took on Wesleyan as a client in 2012. Workers had been assured by the university’s Associate Vice President for Facilities Joyce Topshe that Sun Services would lose their contract if they behaved unethically. But according to another worker, also speaking anonymously, “When I went back to her and told her about the trouble, she acted like she didn't know what we were talking about.”
The Hartford Network for Solidarity, or ‘Hart-N-Sol’ brings neighbors and fellow workers together around common struggles. We stand up to abuses by bosses and landlords, such as wage theft, unfit working and living conditions, discrimination, threats, evictions and firings. Our aim is to build power among those of us who, on our own, have very little power.