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...