A few years ago, student activists at Swarthmore fought to create a living wage policy at the university. It was one of the biggest social justice victories in our area at that time. Students have been making sure that the policy is being upheld ever since.
Then, a couple of months ago, I was contacted by a Swarthmore student who wanted to learn more about the PSOU and our campaign for a paper he was writing. Dennis Hogan meet with several of our guards and spoke with me on the phone about the campaign a couple of times. The semester ended and I figured that I had heard the last of Dennis.
I was surprised this week when an article critical of AlliedBarton popped up in the Swarthmore Daily Gazette by Dennis Hogan and Ben Hattem responding to a new AlliedBarton contract at Swarthmore…
We have here a living wage issue as well as an ethical purchasing issue: by contracting out labor, the College is able to get around the commitments it has made to paying all of its employees a wage that allows them to comfortably support themselves and their families. Secondly, the College, in contracting with AlliedBarton, has chosen to do business with a corporation that has, in the Philadelphia area, been at the center of many bitter labor disputes. The major centers of these disputes have been Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Then, today in an article by Daily Gazette staff reporter, Nick Gettino, Swarthmore students make clear that they are prepared to defend the Living Wage policy and are getting excited about raising hell if necessary…
Now, many students have showed an interest in learning more about the labor practices of AlliedBarton. On Wednesday, a group of students met to discuss the contract with AlliedBarton. “I am interested in working with other students to gather more information about Swarthmore’s contract to see if it’s consistent with college’s commitment to economic justice,” said Zein Nakhoda ‘12, who helped to facilitate the meeting.
Meanwhile, at the museum, AlliedBarton is now fighting dirty. In the last three weeks, three union activists have been fired (including two shop stewards), one suspended and one moved to a job that will difficult for her to accomplish.
AlliedBarton is trying to kill this union before they ever have to start to negotiate the improvements that they are fighting for. I understand that AlliedBarton doesn’t want a union. The company had their chance to prevent it from happening.
We started raising hell at the museum in 2007. We weren’t even trying to be a union at that time. AlliedBarton could have made some small changes to make the guards happy and prevent any union drive. Their greed prevented them from doing that.
Then, we began a union drive in the summer of 2009. AlliedBarton could have made some improvements and maybe guards would have voted against the union. They didn’t. Instead, AlliedBarton lowered the starting wage. Is it any wonder that AlliedBarton lost the election to a completely volunteer run union campaign?
AlliedBarton appealed the election results. The National Labor Relations Board laughed them and their lawyer, Bubba, out of court. The company could have started moving toward progress then, but no. They appealed again on the same grounds that just got rejected.
Now, AlliedBarton is trying to stop the union by the cruelest means possible. They are messing with peoples lives.
Nate Alston has worked at the museum of 14 years, always with a perfect work record, then suddenly, he is fired. Walter Lunsford has worked at the museum for six years and yesterday, they told him to turn in his uniform. These two men protect the museum as they had for for a collective 20 years, the only difference is that, now, these workers are elected union officials. AlliedBarton’s actions are deplorable and cruel.
Tonight, we begin the fight back-
WHAT: “What Would Picasso Say?” Union Protest
WHEN: 4:30 PM Friday, March 5, 2010
WHERE: Philadelphia Museum of Art West Entrance (Fairmount Park side)