Scrolling Headlines:

UMass hockey competes hard, falls to No. 10 Providence College in overtime -

February 26, 2017

Overtime goal hands UMass hockey its 15th straight loss in regular season finale -

February 26, 2017

Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous gives talk at UMass -

February 25, 2017

Anti-racism workshop teaches tactics to fight oppression in community -

February 25, 2017

Providence power play haunts UMass hockey in 6-2 loss -

February 25, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 10 Providence on Senior Night at the Mullins center -

February 25, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

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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