GW, union hold talks

GW officials are negotiating contract renewal terms with the union representing the University’s housekeeping and grounds employees.

Bob Ludwig, interim director of Media Relations, wrote in an e-mail that GW began negotiating with the union in October. He said the contract, which was set to expire in December, was extended, but he declined to comment on a deadline or negotiations.

“We are optimistic that an agreement can be reached soon,” he said.

Sheri Davis, a representative for Service Employees International Union Local 82, declined to comment on contract negotiations.

About two weeks ago, 35 members of Local 82 confronted University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg about alleged unfair practices. Several of the workers have been employed by the University for 15 to 30 years.

“When you’re talking about that kind of loyalty to an institution and they can’t take care of their families, that’s huge,” Davis said. “These employees are not asking for luxuries, they are asking to be able to take care of their families.”

Davis said the University has expanded in recent years, and an outside company has provided employees for grounds and housekeeping work. About 210 grounds and housekeeping employees work at GW.

“The University is expanding, and workers should have the opportunity to expand as well,” Davis said. “The concern is in making sure that there isn’t a problem in the future of worker’s losing their jobs to outsourcing.”

Employees said before GW changed its hospital location a few years ago, they paid about $100 per month for healthcare. They said they currently choose from Blue Cross, Blue Shield or Sigma plans, which cost about $500 per month.

University workers in other areas of the University said they are also concerned about their jobs and salaries. Colonial Parking workers said they would like to have affordable healthcare, since they earn about $7 to $8 per hour.

Tracy Lingo, an organizer for the Hotel Employee Restaurant Employee Local 27 Parking and Service Workers’ Union, said that some Colonial Parking employees are afraid to speak publicly about their plight for fear of losing their jobs.

Last month, a group of garage employees, union organizers and GW students held a protest urging the University to sever its ties with the parking garage company.

“The administration and Colonial Parking care about their image and the opinions of the students,” Lingo said.

About two weeks ago, members of the Progressive Student Union sent an open letter to the administration calling for the adoption of a Code of Conduct that would ensure greater workers rights. Provisions include higher wages for all GW union employees, affordable healthcare and adherence to all provisions of collectively bargained contracts.

“We need for this to be an issue that students on campus know and care about,” said Allie Robins, a member of the Progressive Student Union. She said several other student organizations, including the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Black Student Union and the Out Crowd, are supporting the Progressive Student Union’s efforts.

Ludwig said the University will “seriously review” adding a Code of Conduct.

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