September 15, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Minutewomen offensive struggles continue in a 2-1 loss vs. California -

Sunday, September 14, 2014

UMass football falls to Vanderbilt 34-31 in crushing fashion -

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Front to Back: Week of Sept. 8, 2014 -

Friday, September 12, 2014

“She was a happy person and she exuded that happiness onto everyone around her” -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

UMass football prepares for Southeastern Conference opponent in first road game of the season. -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

‘Calvary’ laces optimism with incredibly dark comedy -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

There is no such thing as ‘reverse racism’ -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Michael Fassbender shines in eccentric, disarming ‘Frank’ -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Controversial but informative Bill Maher returns to HBO -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Photo Slideshow: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Rally -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Letter: Students, go to football games! -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minutewomen not concerned with overtime games at the moment, preparing for game against Northeastern -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minutemen targeting improved third down defense -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Do accused rapists deserve their checks and balances? -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

UMass men’s soccer searching for first win of the season against in-state rival Boston University -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Career Services office refines efforts -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Students respond to Ferguson shooting -

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Primary election ends with Coakley, Baker victorious -

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And 5-6-7-8 -

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Food of the World: Italy -

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

UMass administration needs to sign the Responsible Employer Policy

Matthew Harrison/Collegian

You see them every day. The men and women who clean our dormitories, cook our meals and provide needed repairs and maintenance to keep the University of Massachusetts running. The construction workers, hundreds of feet in the air, build the new Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex dormitories, the new laboratory sciences building and the new classrooms. These men and women are the backbone of UMass. Without them, this University cannot function.

Unfortunately, UMass administration sees these workers as expendable. A study conducted by the Coalition for Responsible UMass Employment (made up of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and campus and building trade unions) found that workers were not being protected on numerous construction and maintenance projects. Workers lacked necessary training and safety protections on job sites. They were not being paid or not being paid the amount agreed upon for the work they were doing. Furthermore, these unsafe working conditions also posed a risk to students and faculty who lived and worked in or around many of the projects.

About a month ago, six UMass employees working in Munson Hall found themselves in an extremely dangerous situation. While working in the basement, an officer from Environmental Health and Safety discovered massive amounts of lead and asbestos, according to a report in an AFSCME Local 1776 newsletter. The workers there had been working for over a week without knowing they were being exposed to asbestos. Twice the workers had been told that the building was safe when, in fact, it had never been inspected, the newsletter stated.

This is merely the most recent case of workers unnecessarily being exposed to dangerous working conditions. The Coalition for Responsible UMass Employment has asked the University administration multiple times now to enact a Responsible Employer Policy for UMass. Such a policy would mandate that workers are paid the wages owed to them, establish training requirements for workers, force UMass to abide by OSHA standards, and create a review board that would ensure that the policy is being enforced. These are reasonable demands made to protect workers, students and faculty, yet time and time again UMass has refused to sign the policy. Most recently, the coalition requested to meet with Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy to discuss the policy since the chancellor is new to campus. At first Subbaswamy agreed to a meeting but has since refused to meet with the coalition.

It is time for the UMass administration to commit to ensuring a safe working and living environment for students, faculty and campus employees. It is unacceptable for workers to be exposed to asbestos. It is unacceptable that construction workers are not being paid for the work they do. The UMass administration needs to sign the Responsible Employer Policy.

Ben Bull is a member of the UMass Student Labor Action Project. He can be reached at bbull@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “UMass administration needs to sign the Responsible Employer Policy”
  1. daria fisk says:

    Hello Ben,

    Great article in the Collegian. Very clear and compelling. We’re planning to cover this on UpFront on WMUA, today. Patrick Burke is coming and inviting others, including YOU, so if you can join us it’d be great. We air from 4:30-5:30pm TODAY and will talk about this right after we talk with Mike Afflito about the Theater and Stage Emplyees difficulties with the Iron Horse etc.

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