The Student-Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) protested on Feb. 3 and demanded a meeting with University President Ronald J. Daniels to discuss policies that would benefit Hopkins contract workers. But since then, attempts to arrange a meeting between SLAC and the administration have broken down.
The University has refused to meet with coalition members who are not students, saying it does not want to intervene while the Local 7 union negotiates its contract with Bon Appétit. However, SLAC said they have offered to compromise.
The Coalition is a group of local trade unions and student organizations on campus. Since their last protest, American Association of University Professors (AAUP) joined the Coalition.
During their protest in Garland Hall, SLAC listed the three demands that they wished to discuss with Daniels.
The first is that contract workers will have guaranteed job security when the University changes contractors. The second demand is a guarantee that all contract workers receive a $15 per hour minimum wage. Third, the Coalition demanded that contract workers receive program similar to the “Live Near Your Work Program,” which provides grants and assistance for University employees to buy and find housing near campus.
Senior Corey Payne, a co-chair of SDS and member of SLAC, explained the University and the Coalition had been in contact about setting up a potential meeting since the rally. But according to Payne, the University refused to meet while the Coalition had union representatives currently in contract negotiations.
Unite Here Local 7 is currently in talks with Bon Appétit after the previous contract expired on Jan. 31.
The Coalition said it responded by offering that Local 7 will temporarily leave the Coalition during negotiations. Payne said that the University insisted on only meeting with students and that they refused to meet with any trade unions or community organizations.
“What’s pretty astounding about that assertion is that only one of our current partners is in contract negotiations,” Payne said. “None of our other partners are, and most of our partners never have been, or never will be in contract negotiations with any Hopkins contractor. So, it’s kind of baffling that they are using this as an excuse to not meet with workers unions.”
The Coalition also agreed to meet with Daniel Ennis, vice president of finance and administration, instead of Daniels.
Kevin Shollenberger, vice provost for student affairs, stressed that they will not currently meet with any non-student members of the coalition.
“The University administration is happy to meet with our students now about these issues. But when there are ongoing negotiations between one of our contractors and its union, we must respect the integrity of their bargaining process,” Shollenberger wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “We have to allow the parties to work through their contract without interference from us. However, once the contract negotiations are concluded, we are open to arranging a meeting with representatives from the broader SLAC coalition.”
According to an email from 2010 between Jim McGill, former vice president for finance and administration, and Robert Day, a former graduate student at Hopkins, the University met with both students and contract workers at the time. A 2011 News-Letter article confirmed that the University met with a joint student-worker delegation.
In response, Shollenberger wrote that the University is “happy to look into this history.”
In an email to The News-Letter, SLAC member Jessa Wais criticized the University’s refusal to meet with non-students.
“[This] is unsurprising and falls in line with their track record of prioritizing Hopkins’ profit margins and interests over the people of Baltimore,” she wrote.
Payne stressed that the Coalition would prefer to meet with Daniels, but that they are willing to work with the University.
“We are willing to compromise and the University is not meeting us at all. It’s frankly ridiculous,” he said.