16 September 2003

2007, You Chose Wisely

James Kirchick of the Yale Daily News href=“http://www.yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=23117”>reports
on the conditions at our New Haven counterparts:

Last week I witnessed a striking worker, without any sense of
impunity, walk up to an open window and blow an air horn into a WLH
classroom. A friend recently told me that striking workers peer into
the windows of his classroom in order to make sure that a class is
being taught, and only then do they shout and bang pots and
pans. Union leaders lied to us. They said that we were not the
targets of this strike, but they have made us combatants in their war
against Yale. It is long past time for us to fight back by standing
with the administration and making it clear to John Wilhelm and his
ilk that their political games will not stop us from going to class
and getting our work done.

Princeton hasn’t had a single labor dispute in recent memory. AY
2000-01 and 2001-02 saw the rise and descent-into-obscurity of WROC,
the Workers’ Rights Organizing Committee, a short-lived (their href=“http://www.princeton.edu/~speac/wroc.htm”>website was last
updated two years ago) subsidiary of Students for Progressive
Education and Action. The group made a lot of noise, and cleverly
installed its buttons on half the campus by handing them out on the
corner of Washington and Prospect on a Saturday (or Thursday, possibly
both) evening.

The group demanded, among other things, a “living wage” and an end to
performance evaluations. While I like the idea that everyone at
Princeton should be paid well (well enough to be friendly, that is),
then as now, I’m skeptical of demands that workers shouldn’t be
evaluated. So, apparently, was one of the workers Kirchick interviewed:

Cindy also lamented the very existence of Local 34. She opposed the
creation of the union back in 1984 because it “encourages mediocrity
— You don’t have to work hard because you’re just going to get the
same thing as everyone else.” She added, “If it wasn’t for the union,
I would be getting raises all along — Because of the union I am not
rewarded for the hard work that I do. Yale is not able to pat me on
the back — I think that the union has held me down.”

WROC was a student movement with some worker participation. The union,
as I recall, didn’t play a huge role — probably because they realized
that the University was actually treating its workers well. Princeton
has a history of heading off these problems before they come to a
head. Yale does not.

2007, you made the right choice.

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