The Just Employment Policy was highlighted in the East Wing of the White House during the Summit on Worker Voice. The Summit brought together workers, labor leaders, advocates, forward-leaning employers, and the President to address the most important issues facing working-class people. One of its panel discussions focused on the way worker voices are amplified when labor and community come together. US Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu moderated the panel, which featured the Director of Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Joseph McCartin. Prof. McCartin was invited in part due to his work promoting Just Employment practices in higher education.
Alongside passionate labor and community organizers, Prof. McCartin explained how Georgetown’s Just Employment Policy ensures that all campus workers receive a living wage and are treated with dignity in accordance with Catholic Social Teaching. The Policy empowered campus dining service workers and adjunct faculty to improve their working conditions by organizing in a manner that served the University’s overall mission.
“Georgetown’s Just Employment Policy upholds values of solidarity, community, and worker voice.”
The discussion also touched on efforts to export the Just Employment model, which was developed based on Georgetown’s policy, to other colleges and universities. Over the past two years, students at John Carroll, Brandeis, and Loyola Chicago have led inspiring efforts to bring Just Employment principles to their own campuses.
The broader theme of ‘good employers’ with high labor standards came up several times throughout the Summit. President Obama specifically emphasized the need for consumers to pressure businesses to pay fair wages and respect the rights of their workers.
“Part of our goal has to be to work with companies and employers – starting with the folks who are industry leaders because they are often the most profitable – to highlight that if you have good management, you can actually do right by your employees and still outperform and outcompete others.”
While the President is referring to employers as a whole, his words certainly apply to colleges and universities, which are guided by a social mission and are often anchor institutions in their communities. Hopefully more schools will hear their students and workers’ calls for Just Employment principles; the White House is certainly listening.