Loyola University Chicago graduate workers walked off the job and were joined by hundreds of students as part of a walkout to protest the administration’s refusal to agree to a fair union contract for graduate workers. The actions followed tense moments last week when seven graduate workers and their supporters were arrested during a peaceful protest.
“Like faculty before us, we waited two years for the administration to recognize the value of our work and come to a fair deal. Today, we’re standing up to say ‘we’re done waiting’,” said Jean Clifford, a graduate worker at Loyola University Chicago. “I shouldn’t have to scrounge food from end-of-the-year parties and events just to be able to feed myself. I quite literally can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Today’s walkout comes just a year after faculty went on strike over the administration’s refusal to come to a fair agreement on working conditions. Even though graduate workers – the master’s and PhD students who do much of the research, teaching and grading on campus for extremely low pay – officially won union recognition back in February of 2017, the school has refused to even sit down with graduate workers to come to a fair deal.
“While Loyola states it honors social justice values and Catholic Social Teaching, they have failed to put those values into practice,” said Father Dominic Grassi, board member of Arise Chicago. “As a leading Catholic institution, faith leaders and the wider community expect better from Loyola. Loyola should proudly lead on issues of workers’ rights rather than try and silence the voices of its grad workers. Chicagoland faith leaders call on the Loyola administration to bargain in good faith.”
U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, as well as faith leaders, faculty members, community leaders, students and alumni joined a rally to support graduate workers. Alumni also organized a pledge to donate if and only when Loyola comes to a fair agreement with its graduate workers.
“The Jesuit education I received encouraged me to serve humanity through learning, justice, and faith. From Sunday night masses to weekday classes, Loyola encouraged me to pursue truth and care for others,” said Mary Kay Devine, an alumna of Loyola University Chicago. “That’s why I expect Loyola to live up to those same values. Unfortunately, right now they’re failing to do so.”