C2M’s George Yanez follows students asking for canned food to benefit dining workers. (George Yanez)
by Adam Sylvain
Representatives of the GMU Students for Workers’ Rights handed out fliers and canned goods to workers Tuesday to show appreciation for their work. Two group members also visited President Merten’s office in hopes of acquiring a canned food donation, but were informed President Merten was out of the office this afternoon.
Kathy Cagle, administrative assistant in the President’s office, advised the pair of representatives to contact President Merten via e-mail and reschedule a time so that he can be prepared for the visit.
Emily Miles, GMU Students for Worker’s Rights representative, said the visit to President Merten’s office was mostly a symbolic gesture.
“The wages and benefits are the issue here,” said GMU Students for Worker’s Rights representative, Robbie Krieger. “If they [dining workers] were getting good wages and benefits under their current contract, we wouldn’t need to ask for canned goods.”
After leaving President Merten’s office, Miles and Krieger distributed Thanksgiving cards to dining workers in the Johnson Center. The message on the front of the card read, “We Give Thanks to Our Dining Workers,” with the Spanish translation, “Damos Gracias a Nuestros Trabajadores del Comedor.”
The pair waited until most of the workers left their jobs at 2:30 p.m. to hand out the canned food donations. According to Miles, the group had gathered over 200 canned food items. Most of the donations were collected in donation bins outside of the Johnson Center on Monday.
“Donating canned food is especially helpful at this time since dining workers are temporarily laid off while students are away on break, said Miles.
The GMU Students for Worker’s Rights have been taking action throughout the semester in the hopes of achieving better benefits and wages, safe working conditions, and a right to organize for all of the university’s dining workers.
According to Miles, the GMU Students for Worker’s Rights is affiliated with the United Students Against Sweatshops and is part of a national effort to oust Sodexo from university campuses.
“Our goal is to cut the current contract with Sodexo unless our requirements are met, said Krieger. “We want a new contract with full labor rights, better wages and benefits.”