Column: Advocate for workers

Over the years, the progressive community at GW has fought tirelessly for workers’ rights at our University, and for workers who are in any way affiliated with this institution. We have met with administrators, submitted petitions with thousands upon thousands of signatures, held forums and teach-ins, and organized demonstrations. We have tabled, palm carded and met with workers, union organizers and other national organizations. We have had small victories, but on the whole the University has stonewalled many of our efforts. Monday at noon we will be holding a large demonstration in front of Rice Hall in conjunction with more than 200 other actions across the country as a part of the National Student Labor Week of Action.

Our demands are reasonable and just. We demand that the University adopt a code of conduct that ensures that all workers affiliated with the University, whether they work directly for the University or for a contractor working for the University, receive a living wage. A living wage enables full-time workers to feed themselves and their children, clothe their families, heat their homes and afford other necessities. Our proposed code of conduct also guarantees that all affiliated workers receive affordable health care. Full-time workers and their families deserve the right to see a doctor when they are ill. Furthermore, we insist that the University affiliate with the Worker’s Rights Consortium, which monitors factories used to make University apparel. The WRC visits factories producing University apparel and assesses the working conditions to ensure that the factory does not subject its workers to sweatshop conditions.

This is the essence of what we are requesting of the University. We encourage all students to demand these things as well. None of these demands are unreasonable. They are all things you will expect of your employers when you graduate. Call University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s office at (202) 994-6500 to demand that the University adopt the Code of Conduct endorsed by the Progressive Student Union and join the WRC. For a more detailed list of what would be included in the Code of Conduct, please visit our Web site at

It is imperative that our University set a high standard for labor rights in this city and across the globe. GW is the second largest employer in D.C., so we are in the position to raise labor standards throughout this city. Treating workers with dignity and respect is the responsible and humane thing to do. Furthermore, it leads to a more pleasant staff, who will be more responsive to student needs.

It is not just PSU making these demands. A coalition of organizations has joined with PSU in demanding justice for workers. Our coalition includes the Jewish Progressive Political Alliance, the Islamic Alliance for Justice, the Black Student Union, the Student Global AIDS Campaign, GW Students for Fair Trade, Students for Peace and Justice, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, The Out Crowd and the College Democrats. This is a united effort of a range of students. We still need your help.

Please demand these things of the administration, and come to the rally at noon Monday in front of Rice Hall. If you can’t make it, e-mail us at to find out how to get involved.

The writer is a junior majoring in political science.

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