|Posted by Students and Workers in Solidarity on April 23, 2011 at 12:11 PM|
Dear Emory Community,
This is an urgent issue that everyone in our community must know about.
Please forward widely.
Join our facebook event to recieve future up to the minute updates as this issue further unfolds, http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149115475155521&index=1
In the interest of open community dialouge, I am writing on behalf of SWS to update the Emory community on the ongoing efforts by students to kick sodexo off of our campus and end inequity between sub-contracted and directly hired employees. We have set up tents on the Quad and will be available there indefinitly to provide information to any interested community members until this issue is addressed in good faith and in a transparent fashion.
Last night a peaceful student sit-in that was publically supported and endorsed by Georgia Senator Vincent Fort and MLK's nephew and VP of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (MLK's civil rights organization), Isaac Farris, Jr. was ended after the Administration called over 10 Dekalb police cars, including a paddy wagon, and threatend to arrest 25 Emory students.
We believe this response to be an inappropriate and overwhelmingly disproportionate response to a peaceful demonstration on behalf of worker and human rights.
Equally or more troubling, however, is the Administration's deliberate and intentional attempt to misrepresent the intentions of the protest. On its website the administration claimed:
"Emory President James W. Wagner has issued a letter outlining the University’s position with regard to an ongoing dispute between the University’s food service company, Sodexo, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). This issue was the subject of a student rally and sit-in protest today at Emory." http://shared.web.emory.edu/emory/news/releases/2011/04/emory-statement-on-food-service-issue.html
This represents just the latest in a continuous effort by the administration and Sodexo to mispresent SWS as a pawn of union SEIU.
This characterization of our intentions or goals is patently false.
To clarify, our position has always been that we do not have any interest in any particular union (SEIU or anyone else) organizing Emory's campus food workers. We do not think that workers should have to unionize if they do not want to. We merely believe in the right for workers to have a work environment which does not make them feel as though they may be descriminated against for seeking better treatment (through whatever means they choose).
Our position has consistently been that we think our community should not tolerate the presence of a company on our campus which willingly uses intimidation tactics (whether they are technically legal or not) to create widespread fear of speaking out against abuse amoungst campus workers.If you dont take my word for it, this position has been published in many places:
1. Wheel editorial: http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=29708
2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution coverage of our sit-in: http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/04/20/emory-students-stage-peaceful-protest-outside-presidents-office/
3. I have also attached my speech notes (note not exact transcript) from the rally held prior to the sit-in where I comprehensively outlined SWS's arguments for why Sodexo does not belong on our campus.
Please note that in none of these documents, nor anywhere else, do we ever advocate a position on the desireability of SEIU. Our position has consistently been about Sodexo and its intimidation and mistreatment of our campus' workers and its workers around the world. The administration and Sodexo continue to deny the public testimony of our campus' food workers negative experiences with the company.
This is just the most recent way in which true ethical dialouge has been blocked by Sodexo and the Administration.Other instances of Sodexo and administration deception and evasion of dialouge:
1. Censorship of SWS signage (an issue which the administration still has yet to provide an explanation for): http://sws-emory.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/show/6741847-censorship-on-campus-sws-signs-removed-by-administraton
2. Misleading Wheel editorial written by Sodexo marketing managers, where they pretended to be hourly food workers and claimed that they do not need student support because that they loved their jobs. http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=28104
3. This deception did not go unnoticed. Three actual Emory food worker's corageously reponsed, calling out the deception and publically testifying to Sodexo's the mistreatment and itimidation. http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=28188
4. Letter signed by 78 faculty members, published in the Wheel, calling out the Administration's unwillingness to address the issue http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=28455
5. SWS has been met with the administration in closed door meetings 9 times over the last year and half. Most of the problems we have highlighted have been ignored or denied without investigation. There has been zero progress and there is little reason to believe that the administration is committed to addressing the issue now.
6. Denial has continued even in the face of two recent human rights reports by the independent organizations TransAfrica Forum and Human Rights Watch which corroborate the problems SWS has observed on our own campus.
What you can do/what is happening next?
We will have an indefinite presence on the Quad. Please feel free to join us on the quad with your own tent or just come hang out and eat some food and snacks.
Contact me via learnlink, or email: [email protected], or post to our Kick Out Sodexo Rally facebook event wall for more information or with any questions.
This issue will not go away. We, SWS in solidarity with the SCLC and many other groups are commited to see it through as long as it takes.