The issue of labor exploitation has been on my mind lately — for some reason, everywhere I look, the struggles of employees are flashing before me, and I cannot help but bring attention to these issues.
In Seattle, on Nov. 7, 60 farm workers were bussed to Stemilt Grower’s Apple Orchard, the nation’s largest supplier of cherries and tree fruits. After getting off the bus they were told they’d be making $25 for five hours worth of labor. When the workers refused to work, they were stranded.
But these issues seem so distant and abstract. They don’t affect us, right?
The reality is, infringement of workers rights is happening on the University Park campus. Employees are losing hours and health care benefits.
The USC Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, which works to create a socially responsible university and monitor labor exploitation on campus, will host a worker meet and greet on Thursday in the University Religious Center fishbowl from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. so students can hear directly from the employees.
According to SCALE’s Facebook event, “[USC’s] attempts at resolving worker issues and sharing their grievances with administration have been largely ignored.”
The Keck strikes took the lime light for a while at the University Park and Health Science campuses.
Workers at Keck School of Medicine strikers expressed grievances because they were losing retirement benefits.
They were also striking against ongoing contract negotiations and inadequate input in matters regarding staffing and delivery of goods.
Because the workers are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, their concerns were facilitated into a 24-hour strike. Perhaps USC isn’t as wholesome as it is seems to be.
This week, another labor issue at the University Park campus has arisen.
According to SCALE, employees at the on-campus food places we love — Parkside Restaurant, Seeds Marketplace and Trojan Grounds — have been losing working hours and health care benefits.
The university needs to be more transparent about labor issues. USC should intervene in the SCALE meeting on Thursday, and provide their perspective and justification of why benefits are being taken away from employees. I am shocked at the lack of intervention on behalf of the administration.
As a student body, we deserve to know why employees’ hours are being cut, and why on earth health care benefits are being sacrificed.
The discussion of prominent labor issues on campus should be university-wide. USC so often strives to stress this “Trojan Family” yet their actions prove otherwise by not providing explanations for their treatment against the employees.
If it weren’t for SCALE, it’s doubtful the employees from on-campus food venues would have other means in which to address their issues and frustration with USC.
There were only minimal updates about the USC Keck School of Medicine strike from the university.
Moreover, if it weren’t for word of mouth, I wouldn’t have known there were more labor issues on the University Park Campus.
We interact with these employees daily — if the university doesn’t maintain transparency, then it is saying as an entity, this institution does not see labor issues as one of importance.
The employees here deserve to have direct responses from administration about their concerns.
Perhaps it is time for USC to reevaluate the principles behind this so-called “family,” and maintain the utmost transparency in issues of such importance
Mellissa Linton is a sophomore majoring in English.