Loyola Chicago President Announces Task Force on Just Employment

Loyola Chicago President Announces Task Force on Just Employment

Loyola University Chicago has taken a major step towards implementing just employment on its campus. After years of tireless advocacy from many members of the campus community, Loyola’s President announced the formation of a Just Employment Task Force “to help identify opportunities for Loyola to demonstrate and deepen its commitment to a more fair, competitive, and socially just workplace.” The task force, which held its first meeting on February 7, will deliberate and produce a report with a set of recommendations by semester’s end. The launch of the Just Employment Task Force occurs under the leadership of President Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, who assumed the role of president at the start of this academic year. President Rooney linked the work of the task force to the university’s mission and strategic plan, which compel it “to seek actionable ways to live out the call to build a more just, humane, and sustainable world.” The calls for Loyola to adopt a just employment model have been echoing on campus for years. Students for Worker Justice (SWJ) have been the most vocal advocates, dedicating countless hours to forming relationships with campus workers and holding rallies to advance their struggle for a living wage and union rights. The Student Government of Loyola Chicago has also backed these efforts, with the two groups cohosting a stirring panel discussion on just employment last November. Staff and faculty members at Loyola played an incredibly valuable role by emphasizing the need to align labor practices with Catholic social teaching and Jesuit values. Most importantly, campus workers courageously shared their stories and organized alongside each other....
The Future of the Just Employment Policy

The Future of the Just Employment Policy

Last November, the Georgetown University community celebrated ten years of just employment on its campus. Since 2005, Georgetown has guaranteed all of its employees and subcontracted workers a living wage, the right to freely associate and organize, freedom from harassment or retaliation, and access to community resources such as bus shuttles and ESL courses as part of the university’s own version of the Just Employment Policy. Time after time, Georgetown has proven that just employment policies can provide a valuable framework to address circumstances that threaten the basic rights and inherent dignity of workers. While the celebration allowed attendees to reflect on the creation of the policy and its impact on the Georgetown community, a third panel pondered the future of the Just Employment Policy model and its applicability to other colleges and universities, particularly those that uphold Jesuit and Catholic values in their mission. Dr. Robert Stumberg is the director of Harrison Institute for Public Law, which played a vital role in drafting the policy model and helped address the legal questions that arise from it. Chris Kerr is the executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, a national social justice education and advocacy network inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola. He discussed how the principles of just employment are rooted in Catholic social teaching and the Ignatian tradition, emphasizing that the JEP is “grounded in the idea of relationship.” Hannah Cook is a first-year student at Loyola University of Chicago and a member of Students for Worker Justice, which seeks to build solidarity with campus workers and achieve just employment at Loyola. Recently, SWJ supported adjunct faculty in their successful bid to unionize and helped dining staff win a contract with fair wages and affordable health care....
Just Employment at Loyola Marymount and Beyond

Just Employment at Loyola Marymount and Beyond

This past October at Loyola Marymount, the largest Jesuit and Catholic university on the West Coast, the Loyola community gathered for a profound dialogue on just employment practices in higher education. The event took place as part of the CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice and the Bellarmine Forum‘s “People, Planet, Profit – Business Today, Tomorrow – What Next?” conference and featured a panel of esteemed LMU faculty members and students, a Just Employment Project representative, and the anonymous testimony of two Loyola Marymount employees. You can view the event in its entirety here: Just Employment at LMU and Beyond from LMU CSJ Center on Vimeo. Dr. Matthew Petrusek, a professor in the LMU Department of Theological Studies, outlined the principles of Catholic social teaching that provide the universal ground for just compensation and the right to organize: association, participation, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good. He also spoke about the difficulty of applying these principles to concrete settings and encouraged everyone working to address the question of just employment to act in a “disposition of mutual charity, not mutual suspicion.” Dr. Cathleen McGrath, an associate professor of Management and chair of LMU’s faculty committee on mission and identity, challenged the misnomer that business orthodoxy prescribes the lowest wages possible. She highlighted companies that have succeeded by treating their employees justly, including a great example within Loyola Marymount: the Loyola Marymount University Children’s Center. Over the past decade, the Center has increased the lowest hourly wages paid to teachers from $12.95 to $17.50, well above a living wage in Los Angeles and the state average for child care teachers of $11.93 an hour. LMU’s children center has also invested in teacher training and development...
Open Letter Supporting a Just Employment Policy for Jesuit Institutions

Open Letter Supporting a Just Employment Policy for Jesuit Institutions

“Please, let us fight for this: the justice of work.” Pope Francis, March 23, 2015 Institutions of Jesuit higher education today are beginning to grapple with many of the same forces that are contributing to growing inequality in the United States and around much of the world. The contracting out of employment to private concerns that do not pay living wages and oppose workers’ basic right to organize, the increasing reliance on poorly compensated part-time or contingent employees who lack benefits, and the introduction of new technologies in ways that undermine the human dimension of work threaten the Jesuit character of our institutions and contradict their mission to “educate the whole person.” Our institutions must embrace their responsibilities as both sites of education and as anchor institutions in their communities. We must not operate institutions that provide opportunities for those whom they educate while overlooking the exploitation of those upon whose labor those very institutions depend. We must not operate institutions that set a poor example as employers in our communities. To ensure that our institutions remain faithful to their vision as they navigate the difficult economic terrain of they face, it is vitally important that our institutions commit themselves to a Just Employment Policy that recognizes and affirms these basic principles: The right of all workers to a living wage The right of all workers to a harassment-free and dignified workplace The right to organize and bargain collectively as outlined in the National Labor Relations Act and its jurisprudence The preference for full-time over part-time work Encouraged by the witness that Pope Francis has given against an economy in...
Protect the Student Witness to the Plight of Campus Workers at Loyola

Protect the Student Witness to the Plight of Campus Workers at Loyola

It is important to start at the heart of the matter. Campus dining hall employees at Loyola University Chicago, who are employed by Aramark, are paid low wages and lack decent health care benefits. Although workers serve the student body with care and devotion, management forbids them from talking to students to prevent them from getting too close. Workers are also barred from speaking amongst themselves in their native languages, even if that means having to rely on others to communicate on their behalf. The lack of basic dignity and respect from Aramark is epitomized by the fact that pay raises for workers are capped at 25 cents per year. Despite Aramark’s best efforts, students and workers have succeeded in building relationships and sharing their respective concerns about the treatment of workers on Loyola’s campus. So when workers were due for a new contract, students were there to support them. They organized a peaceful demonstration where members of the student body, faculty, and other community allies gathered in solidarity with Aramark staff who work hard to take care of them every day. During the protest, a peaceful delegation entered the student union and presented a petition to Bill Langlois, the campus representative for Aramark. For all of five minutes students expressed their support for a fair contract in a clear yet respectful manner and then left to continue their protest outdoors. By addressing Aramark supervisors, the students were pursuing the sort of “encounter” and dialogue that Pope Francis has called for in addressing the problems of those who feel oppression. This innocuous delegation led Loyola administrators to target four...