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....
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...
If We Are Who We Say We Are: Justice for Faculty at Loyola University of Chicago

If We Are Who We Say We Are: Justice for Faculty at Loyola University of Chicago

For centuries, the Church has offered a strong and principled vision on the dignity of work and justice for working people. Pope Leo XIII first recognized the right of workers to a living wage, decent working conditions, and the freedom to organize in an 1891 encyclical titled Rerum Novarum. In Laborem Excercens, Pope John Paul II reiterated the importance of organized labor, describing unions as “an indispensable element of social life” (no. 20). As recently as 2009, Pope Benedict XVI echoed his predecessors in calling for an even greater emphasis on the promotion of workers’ associations in Caritas in Veritate (no. 25). Drawing from the Church’s social doctrine, in which the freedom of association is enshrined, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated: “No one may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself” (Economic Justice for All, no. 104). When Pope Francis visited Bolivia this past July, he concluded his remarks by reminding the crowd that the very future of humanity “is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize.” Although the Church has played an important role in the struggle for worker justice, putting these teachings into practice at Catholic institutions often causes tension. Recently, the Loyola University of Chicago decided to oppose an organizing drive among its contingent faculty. Soon after non-tenure-track professors (both adjuncts and full-time) filed for a union election, the University hired an outside firm to curtail the drive and launched a web page with misleading claims about union representation. The most troubling aspect of the University’s response has been its legal position on the matter. University...
Just Employment Policy Showcased at the White House

Just Employment Policy Showcased at the White House

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...