Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s soccer falls 2-0 vs. Colgate -

August 28, 2016

UMass men’s soccer falls to No. 6 Syracuse in season opener -

August 27, 2016

UMass football boasts young, balanced rushing attack going into 2016 season -

August 9, 2016

UMass football looks to add more size, depth on defensive side heading into 2016 -

August 9, 2016

UMass football gets back in action with start of training camp -

August 9, 2016

UMass football coach Mark Whipple announces Ross Comis as starting quarterback, transfer Andrew Ford close behind -

August 8, 2016

Amherst PD to encourage registering off-campus parties with implementation of Party Smart Registration program -

July 23, 2016

UMass Board of Trustees votes 11-2 to raise tuition and fees an average of 5.8 percent -

July 14, 2016

Mike Stone announces retirement following 2017 season -

July 13, 2016

‘Warcraft’ delivers a likeable mess -

July 5, 2016

Former UMass field hockey coach Carla Tagliente accepts job at Princeton -

June 29, 2016

50 Activists attend meeting as UMass Board of Trustees approves motion of divestment from fossil fuel companies -

June 16, 2016

Four former Minutemen depart from UMass hockey program -

June 14, 2016

Boston Calling 2016 delivers rousing farewell to City Hall Plaza -

June 2, 2016

Sufjan Stevens unearths quirk at Boston Calling -

June 2, 2016

The Collegian live tweets Boston Calling -

May 28, 2016

UMass baseball finishes season with sweep over George Mason -

May 22, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse falls in NCAA quarterfinal -

May 22, 2016

‘Green Room’ is a bloody blast of survival horror -

May 21, 2016

DaLuz: Boston Celtics stuck trudging in the mud -

May 18, 2016

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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