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Living Wage demonstration at CMU: PWR's caroling for Justice
by People for Workers' Rights Thursday, Dec. 19, 2002 at 9:05 PM UC Box 95 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15213

On Friday December 6, 2002, People for Workers' Rights at Carneige Mellon University held a demonstration for the rights of workers on their campus. Caroling for Justice included customized christmas carols that highlighted the plight of campus workers and criticized subcontracting by the CMU administration. (story includes photos from the event).

Living Wage demonstr...
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CMU Students Carol for Justice in support of Workers' Rights and a Living Wage

(above: students and a dining worker march from Warner Hall to the University Center, caroling for a living wage)

On Friday, December 6, 2002, a group of students from Carnegie Mellon participated in a caroling for justice action organized by People for Workers' Rights, as a part of a national day of action called by United Students Against Sweatshops. Students from the CMU Progressive Student Alliance also participated. (info on the PSA coordinated Open the Books Campaign was given in a previous Pittsburgh Indymedia story as well as the campaign's kickoff announcement)

PWR's campaign for Workers' Rights has focused on the Campus Dining Workers and Campus Janitorial Workers. The Dining Workers were subcontracted out to local contractor Parkhurst (a subsidiary of local chain Eat 'n Park) in the 2000 school year, losing many benefits that come with working for the university and facing abuse from a new hostile management. (Janitors at CMU have been subcontracted out for nearly 20 years to various companies. Currently CMU's Janitors are managed by Central Property Services.) At the same time, the shift to private subcontractors meant a dramatic decline in food quality for students as the for-profit contractor tried to cut costs by any means. Students, faculty, staff, and subcontracted workers are all coming together to say that privatization in Universities is bad for everyone, except the businesses who try to exploid the campus for profit.

Several stories in The Tartan, CMU's student newspaper, have covered this ongoing issue:

Both Janitors and Dining Workers are given substandard pay and benefits, compared to non-subcontracted workers, and they are explicitly excluded from the "campus community" that the University talks about. This is especially significant when campus administrators talk about the importance of Diversity in the campus community while they ignore the minorities who work at CMU but are not considered to be a part of the community. CPS and Parkhurst employees risk being fired if they are on campus more than 15 minutes before or after a shift, aren't allowed to use the Library, athletic or computer facilities that are available to everyone else at CMU.

PWR has worked closely with the campus workers to give them a voice, and to empower both workers and students to enact change at the university. PWR has also worked together with SEIU Local 585, which is currently undergoing restructuring, on behalf of the uni on members on campus and the Justice for Janitors campaign in general.

Carol lyrics:

(Chorus) "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Dining workers all deserve to make a living wage -- HEY!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Greedy Parkhurst keeps it all but we're gonna make 'em pay!

I work for Parkhurst -- the abuse it never stops,
No pay, no benefits -- somebody call the cops!

We're with PWR -- we've beat sweatshops before,
We've seen this crime on our campus and we won't take it no more!

Repeat Chorus

Im President Cohon I make a lot of dough,
But when PWR asks for a living wage, I tell them no!

Their rights are compromised - we'll have to organize
We'll fight and fight until our workers' rights are realized!

Repeat Chorus

CMU's student newspaper, The Tartan, covered the demonstration also. The USAS national day of action included actions at: the 5 Claremont Colleges . Stanford . UC San Diego . University of Pittsburgh, Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Swarthmore, Towson, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin, Agnes Scott, Emory, U of Tennessee, Valdosta State University, Vanderbilt, Harvard, University of Chicago, Colorado College, UC Berkeley, and Florida State University.

Text and photos by Matt Toups. contact:

PWR may be contacted at:
People for Workers Rights
University Center Box 95
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

more links:

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PWR's Caroling for Justice sings to workers in campus dining facilities
by People for Workers' Rights Thursday, Dec. 19, 2002 at 9:05 PM UC Box 95 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15213

PWR's Caroling for J...
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Students with PWR and PSA sing pro-living wage carols to campus dining workers.

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Parkhurst employees respond enthusiastically
by People for Workers' Rights Thursday, Dec. 19, 2002 at 9:05 PM UC Box 95 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15213

Parkhurst employees ...
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Workers were given gifts of PWR buttons and fair trade chocolates. The worker-student alliance is poised to challenge a business model and an administration that harms both groups.

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Caroling at Warner Hall
by People for Workers' Rights Thursday, Dec. 19, 2002 at 9:05 PM UC Box 95 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15213

Caroling at Warner H...
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Students brought the living wage caroling to Warner Hall, CMU's administration building. Unfortunately neither CMU President Jared Cohon nor CMU VP of Enrollment Bill Elliott were available to hear PWR's carols.

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