CHICAGO – Today, Loyola University of Chicago graduate workers will protest the school’s poverty pay and denial of workers’ rights at a grade-in and potluck. There, they will show the impact of poor working conditions on their lives, while grading student papers using a “Graded with Union Labor” stamp.
“As Loyola graduates, we are more than just students. We contribute to every aspect of Loyola from their scholarly prestige to their moral commitments,” said Krislyn Zhorne, a graduate worker who is pursuing her PhD in English. “Our working conditions do not reflect the role that we play in the university and we are not receiving the proper support for us to live properly and meet the expectations of the university. So for them to dis-acknowledge the fact that we are workers and that we do deserve to be at the bargaining table is just a slap in a face; they’re going back against their word.”
WHAT: Grade-in and potluck to feed hungry graduate workers as they protest poverty wages and the school’s denial of their rights as workers
WHEN: Tuesday, December 11th at 11:30am
WHERE: Damen Student Center at the Loyola University Chicago campus
Gentile Arena, 6511 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60626
WHO: Graduate workers, students and supporters fighting for their union
Since voting to form their union in February 2017, Loyola graduate workers have fought for and won stipend increases, increased professionalization funding, the addition of dental coverage to their health care plan and freedom to work second jobs outside of Loyola. However, without a union contract, the group says the changes are not permanent. Loyola administration can alter, reverse, or eliminate these new benefits at any time and without graduate worker input. For this reason, the group continues to demand that their union rights be officially recognized.
These actions come after unrest among non-tenure track faculty at Loyola came to a head last Spring. In April, Loyola University non-tenure track faculty ratified their first contract with the university, after nearly two years of negotiations, a strike and other actions. Graduate workers supported the efforts of the faculty as a sign of solidarity in the struggle. In July, non-tenure track faculty at Fordham University won a new three-year contract, after a long fight, that secures huge wage increases for most adjunct faculty.
The event also comes after graduate workers at campuses across the country have won contracts and official recognition of their unions. In April, Georgetown University agreed to allow a union election for graduate workers through a third-party process. In September, Brandeis University graduate workers won their first contract. In October, Tufts University graduate workers won their first contract, which included raises and twelve weeks of paid maternal/paternal leave. Now, the pressure is building for the Jesuit institution to live up to their values for all their workers, including graduate workers.
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