Student-Worker Solidarity is on another campaign—last year it was Faculty House, and now it’s working conditions in John Jay dining hall.
According to SWS’s release, they delivered a petition (circulated as a Google) to dining director Vicki Dunn. It called for “proper ventilation and AC” in the dining hall. Dunn “claimed that these changes would only be possible at the expense of students.” SWS thinks that’s horse; that it “pit students against workers” and ignore rising administrative costs.
Petition Delivered to Vicki Dunn, Executive Director of Dining
Student-Worker Solidarity collects over 1100 student signatures in support of proper ventilation and air condition for the John Jay Dining Hall working spaces.
After hearing complaints from workers of dangerously hot temperatures, upwards of 110 degrees, in the John Jay dining hall, students, having heard the administration had already refused a worker request to install AC, decided to start a petition to pressure the administration to make the kitchen areas safe. In five days over 1,100 students signed the petition (text below) in support of a project to install proper ventilation and AC in these sweatshop zones.
This morning at 11:35 am six representative from SWS delivered the petition and signatures to Vicki Dunn, the Executive Director of Dining. She accepted the petition and was later seen headed to her superior Scott Wright. Dunn claimed that these changes would only be possible at the expense of students. SWS firmly rejects this claim, common administrative rhetoric used to pit students against workers. Attention should rather be drawn to the university’s rising administrative costs, its expansion projects (both in Harlem and throughout the world), and its increasing drive for profit at the expense of students. Lowering student costs and ensuring worker safety must be prioritized by the university, not posed as an either/or. This false dichotomy underscores the university’s betrayal of accessible and affordable education for all.
End Inhumane Working Conditions at John Jay
To Vicki Dunn,
Executive Director of Columbia Dining
John Jay Dining Hall is a gathering place for the student body, where people eat together and form lasting bonds. The administration recognized this, and in reaction spent hundreds of thousands of dollars this summer to renovate John Jay Dining. Despite the benefits of the renovation, administrators failed to provide basic air conditioning and ventilation for those in the dining hall– a fact that bothers students and endangers workers.
In the last few weeks alone, several employees have had to leave work on account of the dangerous temperatures in the kitchen. This is not only unsafe and unhealthy; it is also inhumane. The workers at John Jay Dining are part of the Columbia community, and they do not deserve to endure sweatshop conditions.
We, the undersigned students, workers, and community members of Columbia University and Harlem, demand that the workers of John Jay Dining Hall receive a proper ventilation system behind the service counter that will ensure their health and safety at work. Until this is carried out, the renovation of the dining hall will not be complete. We will hold the administration accountable until they rectify these concerns.
Image via SWS’s Facebook page