Students circulate petition to support union negotiation for workers’ rights

March 13, 2019, 12:59 a.m.

As the Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2014-19 comes to an end, students from CSRE 35SI: “An Introduction to Labor Organizing on Campus” have begun to circulate an online petition in support of “fair treatment of workers and respect for their rights.”

The petition was created as a final project for the class to express Stanford students and affiliates’ support for the new contract negotiation between Stanford and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2007, the representative body for workers on Stanford campus. The negotiation will begin shortly after SEIU sets up initial bargaining dates with the University.

The new contract will determine a variety of issues, from wage scale to medical benefits. According to SEIU’s executive director Francisco Preciado, the negotiation will address affordability concerns.

“We believe that one Stanford job should be enough,” Preciado said. “Many of our members have multiple jobs, or live far away from the campus in order to afford housing. We are pushing for a fair contract [that addresses] affordable medical benefits and wages that workers can live on in the Bay Area.”

Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) spokesperson Jocelyn Breeland told The Daily in October that the current collective bargaining agreement places restrictions on wages, benefits and other terms of employment.

“R&DE staff who are part of this bargaining unit receive comprehensive health insurance, retirement benefits and wages consistent with Stanford’s living wage program, with a built-in increase each year,” she wrote in an email to The Daily.

Hannah Zimmerman ’21 and Elizabeth Atkin ’19, co-instructors of the labor organizing course, created the petition to give students a hands-on opportunity to work with SEIU at a pressing time.

“This petition was in part inspired because we wanted to teach good petition writing,” Zimmerman said. “In addition, we wanted to emphasize that contract negotiations over the summer are so important to union worker rights for the next few years. We wanted to build a core of students who are behind workers, so when [workers] go into these bargaining rooms in August, they have an army of students behind them.”

Among the petition’s demands are “living wages appropriate for the Bay Area, affordable housing, job security, healthcare, transportation benefits and retiree coverage.” The petition, which was officially sent out through major student email chains last Sunday, has garnered 313 signatures to date and will be recirculated at the beginning of next quarter.

According to Zimmerman, the petition extends beyond union workers to individuals who struggle from similar issues but lack the reciprocation of a union.

“There are people on campus we don’t even consider as workers,” she said. “Workers, union or not, are still workers, and we want to be able to support them, including graduate students, resident fellows, part-time workers who don’t have the union benefits.”

The petition is the latest in student calls for the University to provide additional benefits to campus workers, following the The Campus Workers’ Coalition’s petition for adequate coverage for Wilbur residential workers and The Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035’s (SCoPE 2035) protest for Stanford’s lawsuit against Santa Clara County’s housing ordinance.

To address these concerns, the University formed the Affordability Task Force in January as a part of its Long-Range Planning Initiative to “seek input on affordability challenges affecting those who live and work in the Bay Area.” The Task Force is due to present findings to the executive cabinet in later 2019, according to a Stanford News report.

Contact Udani Satarasinghe at usatara ‘at’ and Daniel Yang at danieljy ‘at’ .

Daniel Yang is a staff writer interested in studying History. Contact him at danieljy 'at'

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