We’re all workers here.
The GWU Faculty Association supports the Fair Jobs GW Campaign recently launched by the Progressive Student Union. The Faculty Association further endorses the list of ten demands the Fair Jobs Campaign delivered to GWU President LeBlanc on October 1st, appended below. GWUFA reminds all GW constituencies that GW employees’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. In order to foster an excellent and equitable university, all members of the GW community must have access to safe, justly compensated, and fairly administered circumstances in which to work, learn, and live.
THE FAIR JOBS CONTRACT
I. RECOGNIZE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS
The university must recognize all individuals who draw a wage from the university, including students, as employees. Furthermore, it shall recognize that all employees have a right to unionize. It must cease engaging in any intimidation practices intended to discourage workers from exacting their collective bargaining rights. In the immediate timeline, GW should follow the example of Columbia University and allow their graduate students to unionize with neutrality. Any other working group’s status as employees shall not be contested by the school in accordance with federal and District labor law.
II. CEASE OUTSOURCING
The university must end all outsourcing to third-party contractors and rehire all former third-party labor as GW staff. The university must not renew the relevant contracts with janitorial service providers, food service providers, and any others and instead must offer positions to all workers employed by contractors. When a contract expires, the university simply shall not renew it, and, in anticipation of a contract’s expiration, it must publicly commit to a rehiring plan. Thus, the university will remove third-party involvement without damaging the livelihoods of any university or third-party personnel. Having third-party corporations on campus separates workers from students and does not serve any purpose when third-party workers and GW’s own in-house workers perform the same exact tasks.
III. REFORM MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
GW managers shall be former GW employees, allowing upward mobility for members of GW’s community. Any manager at GW should be employed by GW and not a third party corporation. Currently, in the housekeeping/facilities staff, GW employees are being managed by employees from a third party contractor. For many workers who have been employed at GW for decades, promotion to a managerial position is unobtainable, because managers are employed by another company. These reforms should be completed as GW absorbs all third-party labor into it in-house staff as per the stipulations of Demand II.
IV. ENSURE ON-THE-JOB ACCESSIBILITY
The university must provide an offline option for workers to complete basic tasks required for their work. “Basic tasks” include, but is not limited to, systems for calling in sick, checking schedules, and accessing training activities. Recently, these and other services vital to work have been transferred to solely online platforms, which are not readily available to all workers. Every employee-related document must be documented both online and offline and in English, Spanish, and Amharic. In meeting this demand, GW workers shall be able to complete all their work requirements with little difficulty. These options must be provided by the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.
V. COMMIT TO SUSTAINED HIRING
The university must stop depending on temporary labor services (“temps”) to fill gaps in personnel created by the university. For example, instead of refilling positions to replace workers who retired, quit, or have been fired, the university has depended on temps to fill gaps in the facilities staff. This is unsustainable, especially since remaining workers have been required to train temps during work hours. After a worker steps down, temp labor should only be used for a maximum time frame of 3 months, to allow the university to hire replacement staff. This policy should be effective immediately.
VI. CLARIFY AND STANDARDIZE OVERTIME POLICIES
The university must set a clear policy for overtime in the case of emergency events. Designated employees should be fairly compensated. Also, hours worked during emergency events must be considered overtime and be compensated double time, even if it does not exceed 40 hours a week. In addition, a clear plan must be set so that in the event of an extreme weather event, basic necessities are prepared in advance for those workers who are asked to continue working during said event. Lastly, compensation for working during emergency events must be fully paid out on the closest payday following said event. These policies must be set to ensure that overtime is standardized for all workers. Thus, all workers will be compensated fairly for having to work during extreme weather events. The university must standardize these policies and develop the aforementioned plan with the input of relevant workers by the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.
VII. EXPAND TRANSPORTATION BENEFITS
All workers who live more than a mile off campus, including student workers, must be provided free transportation options. Employees must be able to either opt to take subsidized parking on-campus or WMATA rides in the form of a UPASS system free of cost. Meeting this demand ensures that GW workers will not have to find parking in areas that require fees or only offer two-hour street parking at a time. Currently, GW employees receive varying levels of parking subsidy, with some higher level employees receiving a small subsidy and service workers receiving none. These subsidies should be provided to everyone who draws a wage from GW by the beginning of FY 2020.
VIII. PROVIDE ACCESSIBLE HEALTH INSURANCE
Everyone who draws a wage from GW needs to be provided the same health and dental insurance options, with the exception of undergraduate student workers, who must be offered an additional subsidy of at least $1,500 per year ($750 per semester) on the Aetna-provided Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). Graduate student workers must be made eligible for faculty/staff United HealthCare plans, rather than forced to rely on SHIP. This ensures that they are able to put family members and/or dependents on their plan, something difficult to do under SHIP. The university must publicly commit to these overhauls by the end of the 2018-2019 academic year and make them effective by the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year.
IX. ENSURE FLEXIBILITY FOR STUDENT WORKERS
The university must ensure that undergraduate student workers never have to choose between class and work. Develop and provide an online matching system so that student workers do not have to personally find someone to work their shift. Instead, they can simply indicate (via the online system) that they are seeking to switch out of a shift, and their shift can be matched with another employee who indicates they are looking to pick up a shift during a given time period. Thus, student employees will be better able to juggle the often competing demands of working a job to pay the bills and studying thoroughly for classes. This online system should be constructed and made available by the first day of class in the Spring 2019 semester.
X. PAY A LIVING WAGE
The university shall pay all of its employees at least a living wage in the District of Columbia, for workers employed in both DC and in Northern Virginia. It will not contract companies that pay below the same living wage. This living wage shall be set immediately, and recalculated annually, corresponding to annual changes in inflation. This living wage shall be initially calculated such that a full-time worker at the university (i.e. one who works 40 hours per week) can afford all their basic needs (e.g. food, housing, transportation, etc.) without difficulties. Further, with a living wage in place, workers at the university will have no need to take on any other jobs to meet their basic needs. This university must publicly commit to this policy by the end of this academic year and must cease paying poverty wages to any employee (third party or in-house) by the beginning of the FY20 fiscal year.