“O come let us demand now, O come let us demand now, O come let us demand now that DPS get fair pay!”
That’s something you may have heard sung by members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee if you happened to be walking through Red Square on Wednesday afternoon. The line—sung, you may have guessed, to the tune of “O Come All Ye Faithful”—is from one of five songs that members of Solidarity wrote to the tune of popular Christmas carols, demanding a wage increase for Department of Public Safety officers.
The group is currently in the middle of a campaign to get the University to agree to a pay raise for Department of Public Safety officers as Georgetown negotiates with the Allied International Union. So far, Solidarity members have written an open letter to President John DeGioia demanding the wage increase and have held at least one rally.
Now, they’re singing.
Several of the songs demonize Senior Vice President Spiros Dimolitsas, like this one, sung to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”:
Spiros, our senior vice president
Had a very pointy schnoz (Like Pinnochio)
Grew every time he spoke of
Supporting the workers’ cause (What a hypocrite!)
All of the other admin
liked what they were being paid (A whole lot!)
They never let DPS officers
Make what they deserve each day (Like a living wage!)
Then one sunny autumn day
The workers had their say: (Rise up!)
“Spiros with your cufflinks bright,
Give us what we’re owed tonight!”
All of the students joined them
And they shouted out with glee: (Solidarity!)
“Spiros, our senior vice president
Don’t be such a bourgeoisie!” (PAY YOUR WORKERS)
The Georgetown Solidarity Committee is protesting against the University’s food service provider, Aramark, accusing them of unjust tomato-buying practices, according to GSC’s blog. According to the post, large food service companies like Aramark and Sodexo, have been using their huge purchasing powers to keep tomato prices depressed, leading to low, stagnant wages for farmworkers.
Back in December, a representative from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworkers’ organization from a tomato-growing region of Florida, visited Georgetown’s food committee to educate them about the issue and to deliver a letter demanding that Aramark reform.
Since then, though, Solidarity hasn’t had much luck communicating the issue to the administration. According to the post, Andrew Lindquist, Aramarks’s Executive Director of Dining Services at Georgetown, denied Aramark’s culpability and has refused repeated requests for meetings. (Lindquist and other University officials have not yet responded to Vox‘s requests for comment.)
So this summer Solidarity has taken to a more guerrilla approach, hanging banners in prominent locations on campus, accosting tour groups, and handing out fliers to students in on-campus summer programs. They are also encouraging other students to call or email Lindquist to pressure him about the issue.
The Solidarity Committee’s campaign to help Leo’s employee Leslie Tang, whose home was destroyed in a fire, turned out really, really well:
We have really pulled it together and accompanied Leslie as a community through this difficult phase in her life in a moving expression of the Jesuit value of human solidarity. I would like to offer thanks to all of you who contributed to this effort, and especially to an anonymous donor of $5000. In total, we have raised almost $13,000 at this point. I am good friends with Leslie, and thus been lucky enough to watch her pull through this with an incredibly strong spirit, bolstered by the expressions of an equally strong community.
Good on Solidarity for really coming through on this. Now that it’s over, they should treat themselves to something frivolous. Maybe that giant Donald Rumsfeld puppet they’ve been putting away for.
Guesses as to the anonymous donor’s identity? Put ‘em in the comments.
Solidarity is bringing writer and activist Barbara Ehrenreich to White Gravenor 210B tonight at 7:30. Ehrenreich is the author of the books Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America and Bait and Switch: The Futile Pursuit of the American Dream. Ehrenreich is also a frequent contributor to The Nation.
In Nickle and Dimed, Ehrenreich decides to give up her comfortable upper-middle class life and work for a few months as an unskilled laborer. Leaving home with her car and $1300, Ehrenreich is exposed to the strenuous and challenging life of the working poor. Over the course of the book she works in the women’s department at Wall Mart, tries to work as a waitress in a diner, and finds employment as as maid cleaning houses. Despite all the advantages she had starting out (car, savings, work ethic etc.), she is never able to get ahead and achieve a sustainable standard of living. She even cleaned toilets and couldn’t climb her way up–no justice!
Photo from Flickr user David_Shankbone used under a Creative Commons license
Aramark, whose last foray into charity involved ice sculptures and Amir Bakshi and went generally well, may be acting nice again by helping Leslie Tang, the Leo’s employee who lost her house in a fire.
In last Thursday’s Student Food Committee meeting, Andrew Lindquist (of blue cup fame), suggested donating food or getting a matching gift from Aramark. Meanwhile, Solidarity has raised just over $3,000.
Speaking of Leo’s, sad news from the Solidarity Committee: Leo’s employee recently Leslie Tang lost her house in a fire (emphasis added):
She was cooking rice in her kitchen, left the room to do laundry, and the electrical unit in her stove exploded and her house went up in flames. Her husband was severely burned in the fire. She lost everything: food, cooking utensils, clothes, everything, she told me. Anything that wasn’t burned, for example her sewing machines she needs for her job as a seamstress, was looted by burglars a few days later. She has two teenage children, and her daughter has special needs. Her husband had a stroke last year and has been unable to work since, therefore she is the only income earner.
The Georgetown Solidarity Committee has set up a Paypal account to help Tang. So far, they’ve raised an astounding $1,574. All jokes about the Solidarity food strike yurt aside, they do good work when they have to. Via Saxaspeak
Sorry for the lack of posting, friends, it’s time for our staff elections and as we transition it’s a little unclear who exactly is responsible for what. However, I wanted to spread the word about an unfortunate accident that has befallen an unexpected Georgetown icon: Altagracia, who swipes all and sundry into Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall, lost her home in a fire. The Georgetown Solidarity Committee is organizing a fundraiser and food drive to lend her a hand in getting her life back together. If you can help out, please do. Our best wishes go out to Altagracia and her family.
Here is Solidarity’s e-mail:
On Wednesday night, Altagracia, a cafeteria worker and friendly Leo’s card swiper, lost everything and her home in a house fire. Altagracia and her three children are currently living in a hotel, and are facing difficulties getting insurance money to compensate for the fire’s damage. Leo’s workers asked if students could take up a collection in support of Altagracia; while she’s not in need of clothes, she and her family are in desperate need of canned food and, most importantly, any financial donation students, family, and profs’ can make!
On Monday, GSC’s hosting a fund-raising drive in red square and needs your help! We’ll be flyering to ask for food donations and also asking students to donate money to Altagracia via our Paypal account found at this address: georgetownsolidarity.org/altagracia
As an active social justice group, here’s what you can do to co-sponsor the drive: In addition to donating food and money, you can volunteer to help table/flyer in red square on Monday. We also need folks to forward the email to their listserves, friendship networks, and family — every cent can make a difference in helping Altagracia through this tough time.
Would your group be interested in helping raise money and goods for the famous card swiping star Altagracia? Let us know what your group can do to help! Please reply as soon as possible, as we plan to deliver the money to Altagracia on Wednesday.