While Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality commends the University administration’s defense of our affirmative action policies, we continue to take issue with the University’s inadequate response to workers’ rights violations in the case of Morgan Services Inc.

The time to act regarding Morgan Services is now. For the past seven months, SOLE has been working with the administration to bring about a termination of the contract the University holds with Morgan Linens, an industrial laundry service in Toledo, Ohio. Workers at this factory appealed to the University in the fall, requesting that the University terminate its contract with Morgan in the hopes that the financial loss would pressure Morgan management into bargaining a fair contract and ending the company’s ongoing union-busting campaign.

To date, the only action taken by the University has been to write Richard Senior, Chief Executive Officer of Morgan, a “letter of concern” over the situation. Six weeks later, Senior has yet to respond.

The need for action in this situation has been made abundantly clear to University administrators. In January, SOLE facilitated a meeting between three Morgan workers and two administrators. Although administrators appeared genuinely distraught over the testimonies of these workers, their failure to take seriously the workers’ request for termination of the contract is cause for concern.

With the Morgan case, we should refer to what is already precedent in the University’s approach to labor questions. Last year, in the case of the New Era Cap Co., the existence of workers rights violations gave the University cause for termination of its contract with the company.

An investigation by the Workers Rights Consortium (an independent monitoring organization of which the University is a member) found New Era guilty of egregious workers’ rights violations. After months of negotiations between SOLE and administrators, the administration finally decided to terminate its contract with New Era. A large factor in that decision was the failure of New Era management to cooperate with the WRC investigation, its silences ultimately signaling an admission of their guilt.

The situation at hand is quite similar. The National Labor Relations Board has agreed to hear 10 complaints filed against Morgan management by the United Needleworkers and Industrial Textile Employees, the union that represents Morgan workers. As history has shown, the NLRB’s response to complaints such as these is ridiculously bureaucratic, often deciding cases long after its decisions are relevant.

The case of The Detroit News and Free Press strike is illustrative. Workers were illegally locked out of their jobs when they went on strike six years ago. Only this year has the NLRB ruled that they had been locked-out illegally and deserved to be re-hired. Obviously, the NLRB ruling is largely irrelevant to the lives of Detroit News and Free Press workers, as most have since moved on to new jobs in the six years that have passed. It is likely that Morgan workers’ complaints will be dealt with in a similar way. The University must not let the bureaucracy of the NLRB prevent it from supporting the rights of Morgan workers.

The University has seen thorough documentation of Morgan Linen’s inadequate pay and benefits, relative to the industry average (these numbers are based on interviews conducted between SOLE members and Morgan workers, and statistics provided by UNITE).

They have heard first-hand testimonies of anti-union hostility in the factory and outright illegal attempts by management to decertify their union. They have been offered alternative laundry services with which to do business where workers are treated better and most importantly, have their right to organize respected.

The University insists that it cannot rightly terminate its contract with Morgan Linens without fairly weighing the voice of the management in this dispute. Senior’s non-cooperation speaks loudly enough. The letter of concern, written to him over six weeks ago, spoke of the University’s high standards in regards to ethical business practices. The letter called on Senior to address the serious complaints leveled against his company and he has failed to do so.

It is time to show that that letter was not written merely to placate student pressure until the end of the school year. It is time for the University to back up its words with a willingness to act.

President Coleman, cut the contract now.

Lee is an LSA junior and a member of SOLE. This viewpoint represents the official position of SOLE.

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