March of the workers


Dozens of campus clerical and facilities workers, along with students and community members, took to 58th Street Wednesday to protest what they considered the University's bad-faith contract negotiations. The latest contract offer would have raised wages more than three percent per year, short of the workers' desired four percent. Associate Vice President of University Human Resources Gwynne Dilday described the deal as "fair" to the Maroon, but workers ultimately rejected it the night before the protest.

The clerical and facilities employees have stood firm in demanding four-percent annual salary growth. Steve Hobbs, council president of the facilities workers' union Local 743, noted that employees will be ratcheting up their tactics. "We are going to have a lot of [workers] out from now on," Hobbs said. "We're not going to stand it anymore. We are just trying to keep up with the cost of living."

Marching outside the Administration Building's Ellis Avenue entrance, protesters waved posters and chanted, "No contract, no peace." Some wore masks bearing the face of President Robert J. Zimmer, distributed by students. Approximately 15 students, members of the organization Students Organizing United with Labor (SOUL), came out to support campus workers. Alex Moore, SOUL cochair and College fourth-year, remarked, "workers here make dorms a second home for us. They should be paid the wages they need to support a stable family."

Dilday said in a post-rally interview that she was "disappointed" by the employees' decision to vote down the agreement made between the University and workers' representatives. She will return to the negotiating table, but was "not sure...that the protests will make a tremendous amount of difference."

Ethan Frenchman, '08

Photos: Students chant, "U of C, shame on you," outside the Administration Building; protesters march to demand higher wages for campus clerical and facilities employees.

November 2, 2007