Morgan Services Inc., the laundry company used by several of the University’s campus dining facilities, is being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board for alleged labor violations. Yesterday, members of Students Organized for Labor and Economic Equality and workers from Morgan Services, accompanied by Union of Needletraders, Industrial and Textile Employees representative Karen Burnett, met with University General Counsel Marvin Krislov and Ethical Purchasing Director Louis Green to convince the administration to sever its ties with Morgan Linen Services.
SOLE members and other students gathered in the Fleming Administration Building to show support for the workers. “I think that workers’ rights are very important and the University should recognize that,” RC senior Emily Russell said.
The workers are asking for a 35-cent pay raise, a cap on insurance rates, sick pay, a Christmas bonus and a policy of non-discrimination for UNITE! members. Workers emphasized the pay raise as their main concern.
Pauline Vance said she has been working for Morgan Services for 24 years and earns just $7.70 per hour. She added that even though UNITE! has been in existence for more than 40 years, the management at Morgan Services still rejects the group and actively attempts to break it up.
Her co-worker Othella Johnson, an employee of the company for 31 years, said UNITE! activists are discouraged from talking with each other, which prevents them from organizing.
“They treat you extremely differently if you support the union. They try to keep workers separated,” Johnson said. “They don’t want us to communicate with one another.”
SOLE member and RC sophomore Lauren Heidtke emphasized the importance of this case for the laundry services industry. “This case sets a precedent since laundry managers talk with each other. It affects people in the entire industry,” she said. “It’s not difficult for the University to cut the contract with the company in this case. It’s a purely business relationship.”
SOLE member Mike Swiryn said Krislov plans to talk with University President Mary Sue Coleman within 48 hours and give the group the University’s stance in a week. Swiryn said he is hopeful the University will write a letter to Morgan Services and publicly address the situation.
“Marvin said from what they’ve heard, the situation was below the University standard of ethics,” Swiryn said.
The workers have been without a UNITE! contract for eight months. UNITE! cannot garnish money from employee paychecks until they reach an agreement with the company, Burnett said. The University facilities serviced by Morgan Services are the Executive Residence, the Lawyers’ Club and the Martha Cook Building.