Support our campus workers

Andreya Matthew, Staff Writer

 

Maintenance workers on campus continue to fight for a change in the current pay and benefit policy. SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 200United, the Janitors union, setup a candle light vigil on Wednesday January 30th at Homer Wheaton Park. Which actually turned into a glow stick vigil instead due to the rainy conditions. Despite the rain approximately 50 people still showed up to support the workers?

The crowd included Le Moyne students, Le Moyne faculty specifically adjunct education professor in, Mary Ellen Andrews who shared a few words. In addition, two city council members, Jean Kessner, Helen Hudson, attended.

The vigil opened with a local priest saying a prayer to bless all of the workers and their families. Following the prayer Scott Phillipson, the executive director of the union and 1998 Le Moyne graduate thanked everyone for coming. Phillipson then encouraged everyone to call the Le Moyne College President, Fred Pestello, and urge him to demand that Eagle, the subcontractor that the janitors work for, treat the janitorial staff with more respect and give them the wages and benefits they deserve.

“What we see from Eagle is a systematic approach to treat people who come from other countries very poorly,” Phillipson stated. “And that’s unacceptable to us as a union, and we believe not only is it unacceptable to us as a union, it should be unacceptable to Le Moyne.”

Acho Urufle a janitor who works for Eagle shared stories of the unfair treatment he has received. He told stories of suffering from permanent eye damage due to the cleaning chemicals splashing him in the eye and not having healthcare to get it treated. Urufle also shared how he is given way more work than hours which makes it hard to finish his work in only five hours. He explained how he is yelled at, shown a lack of empathy when his mother passed away and accused of lying about her death, and treated in poorly in many other ways.

Some Le Moyne students have stepped up and voiced their support for the union workers. David  Palmer, senior and SGA(Student Government Association) Representative said a few words, “I’m just supporting the workers because I think it’s right that they deserve a living wage, some of them are working three or four different jobs and I don’t really think it’s fair.” Palmer continued, “They should be able to work one job at Le Moyne and get benefits so that way they could have their kids go to Le Moyne.”

Junior, Lindsay Rexer, a member of Amnesty International, also went to show her support. “Amnesty got involved and we are supporting the janitors,” Rexer explained. “We’re working on setting up a meeting with Le Moyne so that a few students can get involved and just talk to the head of the problem and see what a small crowd can do before anything drastic.”

The union expressed their appreciation for all who came out to support and Phillipson encouraged individuals in the Le Moyne community once again to call the President of Le Moyne and urge him to work to change the current working conditions for Eagle employees.