Thursday, April 29, 2010

Immigrant Rights Picket at Wrigley Field: Boycott Arizona!

This article was originally posted on Gapers Block.


Wrigley picket
Immigrants Rights Activists Picket outside Wrigley Field.
Chicago is finally getting some spring weather. In Wrigleyville, thousands of fans are enjoying the weather and catching a baseball game. Jeering the other team has a long history in sports, but today over 200 supporters of immigrants rights picketed outside Wrigley Field to protest against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona's anti-immigrant SB1070 law.

The law forces law enforcement in Arizona to stop "suspected illegal immigrants" and make them prove their citizenship in order to avoid arrest. Leone Jose Bicchieri, the executive director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative explained that the law would "only increase racial profiling in Arizona." Describing what the law tells police to do, "You better go out today and you better stop suspected undocumented immigrants. When you say, 'Well what does that mean?' They say 'well you know, suspected undocumentented immigrants.' That means dark people."

Immigrants and civil rights groups across the country have begun a nationwide boycott against the state of Arizona in order to pressure the state to rescind the law and to prevent other state from passing similar laws.

Wrigley picket
An immigration rights activist holds a sign that parodies the Arizona State flag.
The owners of the Diamondbacks are among the largest contributors to the Republican politicians who passed the law.

According to Biccieri, the owners "should move the Diamondbacks to a state that treats all people with dignity and respect." He encouraged people outside of Chicago to protest diamondbacks games across the country.
"We love Arizona, we just don't want them to be like the apartheid regime in South Africa."

Lest any Chicago fans worry that the protest was anti-Cubs Bicchieri told the crowd gathered, "If the Cubs ever needed to sweep a series, boy is it this one... We take pity for all the Latino players on the Diamondbacks and all the Latino players like Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano on the Cubs," who faced the possibility of being arrested in Arizona if they were pulled over and failed to provide documents such as their birth certificates and social security cards.

The protesters are also devising a strategy to stop White Sox and Cubs spring training in Arizona.

Organizers asked for supporters to attend pickets outside Wrigley Field before every Diamondbacks game this weekend. The protests will be before first pitch, Saturday 1st pitch is at 1:20 and Sunday at noon.

Wrigley picket
Her papers are the U.S. Constitution. Protester at the Arizona Diamondbacks game in Chicago.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wage Theft Crime Spree: What Will Stop It?

This article was originally posted on Gapers Block.  Factual corrections were made, in the original article, Jericho Products was named, when it should have read Duraco Products.

This feature is supported in part by a Community News Matters grant from The Chicago Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


Victor Hernendez addresses a rally in the state capital in Springfield. Hernendez was a victim of wage theft.

You work assuming you'll be paid, but too often, workers are simply denied what they're owed. It happened to Kim Kambra who worked at Duraco Products in Springwood. "They didn't pay me. I worked over 55 hours a week and they paid me for one week out of the last 10 weeks. My house went into foreclosure and I lost the legal rights to my house even though I still live there."

Kambra was one of many Duraco employees who were not paid. Computer programmer Bill Van Dusen worked for 12 years at Duraco but for three months in 2008 and another three months in 2009, Dusen was not paid. "I had to use the money we saved for our kids' education to pay our bills."
Jericho went beyond not paying their employees. The company "stole our deductions for health insurance and child support. They collected that but didn't pay it to the proper person they needed to pay it to," according to Van Dusen.

However, Duraco's owners have been paid handsomely. Kevin Lynch, one of the owners of Duraco Products would have wild venison for his dogs and chrome parts for his car delivered to the company while three employees' homes went into foreclosure.

Duraco isn't the only company in the Chicago area cheating its employees. Victor Hernendez worked at Park Management in Chicago but is owed 21 thousand dollars from the company. He filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor in 2008, and while the IDOL has agreed with his complaint, Park Management still has not paid him.

Liz Rush, an employee at Renzenburger Warehouses, became active with the Warehouse Workers for Justice after she was forced to work overtime without being paid. "'It's your job. It's your job. You'll get written up,' [managers] say, so we do things with no pay just so we can keep our jobs."

Its not just a few corporations getting away with such behavior. Adam Kader from ARISE Chicago's Worker Center explained, "We see non-compliance [with labor law] as the standard," in low wage jobs.

The study "Unregulated Work in Chicago" produced by the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, estimates that "in a given week, approximately 146,300 workers in Chicago and suburban Cook County have at least one pay-based violation. Extrapolating from this figure, front line workers in low wage industries lose more than $7.3 million per week as a result of employment and labor law violation."

"We're not just talking about the underground economy or a few rogue employers," Professor Nik Theodore, who helped write the report, said. "We're talking about some of the largest, fastest growing industries in the Chicago area. Key clusters such as retail, restaurants and grocery store. Caregivers like home healthcare workers and domestic workers. Residential construction, warehouses, segments of the manufacturing sector. Personal services like laundries and beauty salons and building services like janitors and security guards."

The study used respondent driven sampling, a survey method where workers referred other workers, allowing the study to establish trust better that other surveys. This method allowed the survey to reach low income front line workers in many different industries, an estimate 310 thousand such workers in Cook County.

Twenty-six percent of workers in the sample were paid less than the legally required minimum wage in the previous work week. Of those who worked more than 40 hours during the previous week 67 percent were not paid the legally required overtime rate.

Many workers faced meal break violations as well. Three quarters of the sample worked enough for a break but 43 percent received no break, had breaks shortened due to employer interruption, or had their break interrupted in other ways.

Of the tipped workers in the study, 15 percent were not paid the tipped worker minimum wage.

Twenty-six percent of the workers in the study made a complaint or attempted to form a union. Of those 35 percent experienced one or more forms of illegal retaliation from their employer or supervisor. Fired, suspended, threatened to call immigration, or cut hours or pay.

This crime spree in wage theft has a real impact on the economy in Illinois.

Theodore explained that it is "bad economics to think we can rebuild the economy on the back of illegal workplace practices." Citing a race to the bottom between companies that have to compete against corporations that don't pay their employees, leading to wages being depressed across whole industries.

Government Regulators have Limited Resources to Enforce Laws

The Illinois Department of Labor is one of the smaller agencies in Illinois. With only 87 employees, the IDOL must respond to 8,000 to 9,000 complaints a year regarding wages.

Bert Rodriguez, Assistant Director of the IDOL, explained that they "try to resolve the issue at our level. Trying to mediate the issue and hopefully get the worker the back wages due or address whatever workplace violation uncovered. In a lot of cases we are unsuccessful in those efforts. In a lot of cases we find uncooperative employers." The IDOL will, "partner with the office of the attorney general... once we make a determination," if the case is worth it.

The Illinois Department of Labor often does not have the resources or authority to pursue the cases it is presented with. Which is why a coalition of community groups called the Just Pay for All Campaign is pushing for a bill that would strengthen the IDOL's ability to seek lost wages and punish employers that steal wages. It would allow the IDOL to pursue cases without needing to go to the Attorney General's office, potentially resolving disputes months sooner than it currently takes.

The bill was sponsored by Illinois Senator William Delgado and passed in the Illinois Senate unanimously. Representative Elizabeth Hernendez sponsored the bill in the Illinois General Assembly.

Delgado worked with the Just Pay for All Campaign and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to draft a bill that they could agree on. Jay Shapman from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce "felt that the original bill went too far, but came up with a version that we believe will go after the most egregious offenders," Delgado says.

According to Representative Hernendez, "The majority of our business community are following the rules... unfortunately there are business people using this as a model, so it's those few we are trying to get."

Katherine Kolon, a lawyer with the Working Hands Legal Clinic, described the legislation as bringing Illinois' labor law regime into line with other labor laws on the state and federal level. The bill would not raise taxes but would allow the IDOL to fine violators more quickly, as they would not have to go to the Attorney General's office in order to seek redress. The bill will be voted on by the General Assembly in the next few weeks.

Wage theft is coming under increasing scrutiny from the federal Department of Labor. Hilda Solis, the new Secretary of Labor, calls herself "the new sheriff in town," implying a renewed effort to crack down on business that steal from their employees.

On March 31 Solis spoke at UIC to unveil the new "We Can Help" campaign aimed at raising awareness among workers about the DOL's wage and hours divisions. The campaign seeks to let documented and undocumented workers know about their rights and that they can use the DOL. Solis has big aspirations for the 2nd largest enforcement agency in the federal government, "those who break our nations labor laws and prey on vulnerable workers, it ends today."

The Department of Labor under Solis has been able to increase funding back to its 2001 levels, before the Bush administration cut funding to that department. Solis's DOL has hired 250 new wage and hour investigators but, "hopes to do more."

However even with the larger budget and increased staff, the extent of the wage theft leaves the DOL to pick and choose which cases it pursues.

According to Solis, "There is no way in the world we can go after every single complaint, we don't have enough staff to do it. But we can target certain segments of our communities where we know there are abuses going on." Solis wants the DOL to work with non-profits, labor, faith and community groups, to determine where the most egregious cases of wage theft are occurring.

According to Theodore, from 1980 to 2007 federal funding for the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour division declined 31 precent as the workforce increased by 52 percent. With the current staffing levels it would take the DOL 133 years to inspect each workplace once.

Even the "We Can Help" campaign might be woefully inadequate to raise awareness about what workers can do about wage theft. Will a few videos posted online and radio spots spook employers into paying their employees and informing workers of their rights?

Leone Bicchieri, the Executive Director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative explained that it was too early to tell. Bicchieri was "hopeful, but we'll have to see" whether the program has the desired impact.

In many ways the Department of Labor is the public option for those workers who can't afford a lawyer to seek redress for wage theft.

Supporters of the Just Pay for All campaign rally in the Rotunda of the Illinois State Capital in Springfield.

What Needs to Be Done?

Kim Kambra testified to the Illinois General Assembly Labor Committee, saying, "If I steal a piece of pizza, I'm going to jail... [Duraco products] have no consequences for not paying us. They owe us over 25 thousand dollars in wages. It's unfair to all the business that have to compete with them. It's unfair to us with families that have to support them and are losing our houses. The Department of Labor right now has no power to make them pay."

It is a testament to our society that so little is done to stop the practice of wage theft. What can be done to stem the crime spree?

According to Professor Nik Theodore it is important to keep wage theft on the agenda of lawmakers and it is imperative to increase resources to the Department of Labor to handle such cases.

However, workers who have had their wages stolen frequently turn to community groups to get their just compensation. The Chicago Workers Collaborative for example often uses workplace actions, legal pressure and grassroots organizing to get workers their stolen pay back.

According to Leone Bicchieri from the Chicago Workers Collaborative, "The first line of defense is workers themselves being organized. The management of a company can literally sense in the workplace when the workers are united and it changes the dynamic of that workplace."

ARISE Chicago has been able to recover over $3,800,000 in lost wages for workers who have not been paid. The Latino Union has used direct actions at employers who don't pay their workers in order to pressure employers. According to Bicchieri, passing a law is only a step towards stopping wage theft. Community groups need to be prepared to follow up on reports of abuse, and hold employers accountable to the standards in any new law.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Michael Steele: Selling Minorities Real Estate in Lake Michigan

This article was originally posted on Gapers Block.


Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele makes Joe Biden look gaffe proof. It seems like every time you turn around on CNN, or load up Huffington Post, Steele is explaining how the Republican Party is the party of one-armed-midgets, Republicans fought to outlaw slavery in the Bill of Rights (it was actually the 13th amendment, not the first 10), and apologizing to Rush Limbaugh.

Which is why I went to the Chairman's appearance at DePaul University. I appreciate good stand up comedy.

Steele's appearance was sponsored by the campus Republicans and the DePaul Cultural Center. An odd combination considering that the Conservative Alliance had once sponsored an Affirmative Action Bake Sale targeting the cultural center and organized pickets against the speakers the Cultural Center invited such as Ward Churchill.

Steele is the first Black person to be the national chairman of the RNC and was to speak on Conservatisms appeal to minority communities. Instead he talked about its lack of an appeal.

When asked , "Why should Blacks vote Republican?" Steele responded without hesitation, "You really don't have a reason to, to be honest. We really haven't really done a good job of giving them a reason to... We have failed miserably in that regard. We have lost sight of the historic integral link between the party and African Americans."

But liberals looking to mock Steele's response should pay attention to the context of the statement. Steele explained that part of what he had been trying to do as RNC chairman was to "turn the elephant." He complained that the Republican Party had used a Southern strategy that alienated minority voters and that he hoped to "reestablish [the Republican Party's] relationship with African Americans."

Steele said that the goal of the civil rights movement has changed. "The fight to get a seat at the lunch counter is done. Your fight now is to own the diner... ownership is what will define your generation. I'm not talking about 'oh I got my own a house.' I'm talking about legacy wealth. I'm talking about stuff that the Vanderbilt's and the Rockefeller's and the Kennedy's did. That is now affordable to you... but your going to have to fight for it."

Steele described ways he had attempted to reach out to blacks by speaking at Black churches, and working with minority business groups. Steele even explained his own experience being denied an interview for a job once they realized that he was black. He encouraged Republicans to reach out to minority voters, despite the disconnect between the two. "You got a big hurdle. 1.) They don't trust you. 2.) They may not like you. 3.) You've got something to offer. 4.) Put it on the table."

Is this the strategy to win the support of minority voters? Is Steele the person to sell the Republican Party to anyone, let alone a group of people who have been alienated from the GOP?

Steele seemed to have trouble grasping what inequality in the present era means. He attempted to say that political interests lead to inequality. "You have an interest, I have an interest... it matters whose interests are bing served, how why and when." Which sort of makes sense. Certainly Wall Street CEO's have a different interest than a single mother living in Austin or Pilsen. Wall Street CEO's are also more likely to have their interest served as well. I don't think Steele meant it that way though.

Steele agreed that he measured equality in a relative sense rather than an absolute sense. "Some people are comfortable with the level of equality that they have, I've just never been one of those people. You may be..... 'I got the job, I got this, I'm good.'" I think Steele meant to say material wealth instead of equality. It would make more sense if Steele was talking about wealth, but he kept saying equality.

What was even more striking was Steele's boring policy wonk answer to a woman who asked about health care. The woman asked, "I have had 2 heart surgeries totaling 250 grand. I have lost my health insurance, and my parents had to move to smaller house. Since you opposed Obama's health care plan, what would you propose?"

Steele didn't display a single empathetic emotion. He did not tell the woman that he hoped she was well, or that he was sorry for her troubles. Instead Steele complained about lawyers who sue malpracticing hospitals and insurance companies. "I don't know how you address health care without addressing tort reform. I don't know how you address health care without addressing the underlying costs to it."

Steele may be reaching out to minorities, but the policies he proposes would negatively impact those same communities. Steele is the consummate snake oil salesman. He wants to encourage minorities becoming millionaires, but wants to cut the welfare programs that people rely on. Steele says he wants to reduce health care costs, but doesn't even lay out a plan for minorities to afford health care. Steele proposes school vouchers which would take even more resources away from the schools that need them.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Democrats Target Immigration Reform - How Far Will They Go?

This was originally posted on Gapers Block.


Immigration rally
Immigration activists wave American flags at a recent rally.

Immigration rights activists held a large rally Saturday at the Teamsters Local 705 hall in Chicago. Activists were calling on Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform, and hoped that with the health care bill passed, that immigration reform would be next on the Democrats agenda in Washington. The loud and raucous crowd had immigrants from all over the world including South America, Asian, Africa and Europe.

It seems that immigration will be the next big issue for Democrats. The rally was joined by Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate majority whip and the second most powerful senator in the country. While one speaker urged Congress to ignore "cynics like Rahm Emanual who say that now is not the time for immigration reform," it seems as though they may not have to as Emanual is now stating that he supports taking action on immigration reform sooner rather than later.

Supporters of immigrants have been upset at the slow pace that President Obama and Congress have been taking on immigration reform. Deportations continue to divide families and "many young women are forced into sexual trafficking every year because their immigration status is being used against them, many family members are forced into below minimum wage jobs because their immigration status is being used against them." According to Pat O'Connor, the President of Illinois Police Chiefs Association, which supports comprehensive reform.

durbin immigration
Senator Dick Durbin speaks at a recent immigration rally.

Durbin, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, told the crowd that it was time people told the government to "stop dividing our families." He was was optimistic that Republican support could be found for immigration reform. He pointed to Republican Senator Richard Lugar from Indiana, who was the cosponsor of the DREAM Act with Durbin. The DREAM Act would allow undocumented youth without criminal convictions access to residency and college funding.

However, Senator John Kyl of Arizona has announced that Republican senators would filibuster immigration reform if it were brought to a debate in the Senate.

Many in the crowd expressed optimism that immigration reform could be passed within the year or even before May 1st, the anniversary of the largest immigration rallies in the country's history.

I think this is unrealistic. While an immigration reform bill would be good, I don't see how Democrats will be able to pass substantial reform in a short amount of time. Republicans fought tooth and nail against even the most moderate health care reform. Democrats ended up voting on a watered down health care bill that did not even include a public option for health insurance. Democrats essentially were forced into advocating for and passing a health care bill whose guts, mandating individuals to buy insurance from private for-profit insurance companies, were originally Republican policies.

Republicans can see the writing on the wall. Immigration reform would legalize likely Democrat voters who are already here and provide an avenue for future likely Democrat voters to enter the US. If blocking health care reform was to protect corporations that donate to Republicans, then blocking immigration reform will be about protecting republicans own electoral vitality.

What immigration activists need to be asking their congressmen is how watered down is immigration reform going to become? How many compromises will be made with the Republican minority and the dissident right-wing democrats in order to hustle the votes for reform that may not actually improve the plight of immigrants in America?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chicago Teaching Assistants Strike Averted as University Settles

This was originally posted on Labor Notes.


The Graduate Employees Organization at the University of Illinois at Chicago reached an agreement with school administrators late Monday night that union negotiators said met members' demands. Photo: Matt Muchowski.

The Graduate Employees Organization, which represents teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Chicago, reached an agreement with school administrators late Monday night that union negotiators said met members' demands.

GEO members, Local 6297 of the Teachers (AFT), had been working without a contract since August 2009 and had been in negotiations with the university for more than a year. The major sticking point was the university’s refusal to include tuition waivers in the contract, which the union said would allow the administration to grant partial waivers and make arbitrary alterations to a key economic item for members.

The agreement, which still needs to be ratified GEO members, secured tuition waiver security, a 2 percent increase to the $14,000 minimum yearly stipend, and increased transparency in “tuition differential” charges and other fees.

The differentials create a backdoor tuition that allows departments to charge graduate students for registration, services, and office supplies. The fees vary from department to department, but GEO says some members pay as much as $11,000.

The agreement came after a 13-hour mediation session between the union’s bargaining team and the administration. Hundreds of GEO supporters rallied before negotiators entered the meeting, and continued to rally outside the meeting for most of the day.

GEO was ready to strike if the unions’ demands of tuition waiver guarantees and having a say in supplemental fees were not met. GEO members had voted in February to authorize a strike by 84 percent of the 1,400 members.

The administration may have come to the conclusion that it should cave by learning the lesson of its sister campus, the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where administrators provoked a two-day strike in November, shutting down many university buildings and sending administrators scrambling to settle.

“Because of your organizing,” said GEO Organizer Jason Leto in a statement, “the bargaining team was able to walk away from the table with a contract that makes important gains, and protects the benefits we currently have.”

Participatory Budgeting in Rogers Park Unleashes the Creativity of the People

This originally appeared on Gapers Block.


democracy in real time

The residents of Chicago's 49th ward will vote on Saturday to determine what to use $3.1 million of city money on. The far north side ward was covered with fliers urging residents to vote in what is the first attempt in Chicago to use a democratic process for determining how to use infrastructure funds.

Each ward is given a budget to use for infrastructure, and the money is usually spent by the Alderman's office on permanent items such as street lights and pavement repairs. However Alderman Joe Moore in the far north side ward decided to open the process to the community and to let residents vote on proposals created in open committees.

The Mess Hall, an artist space with anarchist tendencies has a display that highlights the various proposals on the ballot. The space has had extended hours and has been packed with residents hoping to find out about the proposals.

Some of the proposals include: street lights, repaved streets, police surveillance cameras, bike lanes, historical markers, dog parks, decorative and educational bike racks and free wi-fi.

Mess Hall has notepads posted next to proposals for viewers to write their own ideas. Hundreds of ideas were written on these pads, and many ideas built off of each other. One line of thought went from creating memorials to birchwood trees that used to reside in the neighborhood, to planting actual birchwood trees, to planting "birchwoods as public monuments to tell the story of colonization."

Mathias Regan of Mess Hall said that he hoped that Roger Park's experiment with participatory budgeting would serve as a model for other wards and cities. Regan called it, "one of the most interesting and exciting projects I have seen." Regan said that "absolutely" the participatory budgeting process created more creative and people oriented ideas than a proposal made in committee secluded from an open and democratic process would have.

Mess Hall 2

The process began in January and each resident has 8 votes to split among 36 different proposals. Residents are able to vote by proof of residency, such as bills mailed to an address in the 49th ward. The money will be spent on proposals in descending order of votes received, since many of the projects cost less than the total money being allocated.

The process has been wildly popular. On the first day that Alderman Moore's office was open to early voting over 100 people voted for the budget. During the 2008 presidential election 9 people arrived to early vote on the first day.

Mess Hall will host a program at 6:30 Friday night on the history of participatory budgeting.

Mess Hall 3

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chicago Teaching Assistants on Edge of Strike: ‘No Waiver, No Labor!’

This was originally posted on Labor Notes.


Hundreds of graduate student employees rallied at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus early Monday morning. They're threatening a strike to protect tuition waivers and to put a floor underneath graduate employees’ meager earnings. Photo: Matt Muchowski.

Hundreds of graduate student employees rallied at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus early Monday morning to pressure their administration to protect tuition waivers for teaching assistants.

Members of the Graduate Employees Organization, they will likely go on strike tomorrow if the administration refuses to include tuition waivers for graduate employees in the contract and limit “tuition differential” fees. GEO, Local 6297 of the Teachers (AFT), has 1,400 members. The university has about 25,000 students enrolled.

GEO members have tuition waivers now, but the union says the university’s current offer would allow the administration to grant partial waivers and make arbitrary alterations to a key economic item for members.

Any waiver will become pointless, however, if the administration continues to find other ways to charge students through fees and tuition differentials. GEO organizer Jason Leto likened these fees to “paying for a job.”

The differentials create a backdoor tuition that allows departments to charge graduate students for registration, services, and office supplies. The fees vary from department to department, but GEO says some members pay as much as $11,000.

GEO is seeking a campus-wide system for regulating and reducing the fees.

Laura Nussbaum, a teaching assistant in Anthropology, said securing waivers and limiting fees are essential to put a floor underneath graduate employees’ meager earnings, about $15,000 in pay annually. Ellen Kang, another anthropology TA, said, “It’s not possible to live off of what we make.”


The rally took place on the final day of mediation between the union and the administration, outside the building where the meeting was taking place. GEO members have been working without a contract since August and have been in negotiations since last April.

Supporters banged on drums and chants from the energetic crowd echoed through campus. GEO members wore their red T-shirts and “GEO—Ready to Strike” buttons. Members authorized a strike in February by 84 percent.

A sister grad employees union, GEO at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, went on strike last November over many of the same issues and won in less than two days. UIC GEO has built a strike fund of $50,000 in preparation for an action.

Nussbaum said most TAs put in 14- to 15-hour days, preparing classes, grading papers, writing exams, and helping students with their papers, in addition to their own studies.

Often Nussbaum has 90 five-page papers to grade, which take about a half hour each. The grading takes up an entire 40-hour week, but Nussbaum also finds herself helping students with few study skills catch up to college-level coursework.

“They have gotten a really good deal out of us so far,” she said.

Undergraduate students have rallied to GEO’s cause. Diana Lloga, a Pyschology and English double major, said she planned on pursuing an advanced degree and commended the grad employees for “setting a standard for years to come.”

English Professor Walter Benn Michaels told the crowd at today’s rally that grad students at UIC were “underpaid and overcharged,” and criticized the “recalcitrant” administration. Michaels said faculty are attempting to organize with UIC United Faculty and that GEO was an inspiration to them.

“In a way I envy you because you have the GEO. You have an organization for collective bargaining, to fight for you,” he said. “We are here for you now and we hope that you will be here for the faculty one day soon.”

Striking graduate employees could soon be joined by clerical and cafeteria workers on picket lines. After working a year without a contract, Service Employees Local 73 will be taking a strike vote next week. At the GEO rally, Chief Steward Joe Iosbaker came to “salute you, stand in solidarity with you, and follow your example. Same employer, same fight.”

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