University still embattled in labor union dispute


Shea Lamanque

The summer and early fall months have been heavy on demonstrations and strikes in the U.S. From union strikes about wage differences to religious believers,, this seems to be an effective strategy to obtain what one wants. Demonstrators can remain outside for weeks at a time, maintaining a high noise level and amassing so many members that they can rotate them in and out. Their power to inspire passersby can also prove their impact. Just last year, the University faced the wrong end of such demonstrations.
Although some protests may possibly “stretch the truth” and include signs or labels with exaggerated sayings, the meaning is the same. The protesters demonstrating against the University claimed that the University was ruining what Americans stand for—fairness and equality. Representng the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, their dispute was toward ShawnLee Construction, whom they allege the University contracts workers from. The company was allegedly paying their workers half of what they should have been for their construction work. Matters seemed complicated: because the company was originally from Plainville, MA, being out of state meant New York workers did not have as many job opportunities. The NRCC believed the University had an obligation toward the community and should not hire those from ShawnLee construction.
The University’s argument was their Master Plan project would create a large number of jobs and more than half would be union jobs. With this possible compromise in hand, companies continue trying to negotiate terms, although it seems SL Construction is unable to cooperate at this time.
Currently there are protesters outside of the dorms on 33 Beekman Street.
“It’s unfair how they’re treating the potential workers and how the whole thing is kept on the down low, said University student Suzanne Miranda. “They should bring the matter up since it involves students too. The fact that they are keeping it under wraps shows that it’s a bad idea and it’ll worry a lot of people.”
Freshman students voiced worries about tuition being raised for this purpose although faculty assures them that is not the case. Whether this should be a big deal or not, the subject is going to worry a lot of University attendees.
The few students who heard about this matter do not have anything positive to say. Their arguments include the amount of extra money the University has to spend, the thoughts of how New York families could be affected and even just the general loss of respect for the school.
NRCC representative Daniel Souza believes that the University may be hiding behind their independent contractor, which is why the students cannot understand the situation.
This article originally appeared in the September 17, 2014 edition of The Pace Press.