RIT rallies for union drive

April 6, 2009

ROCHESTER, N.Y.--Over 75 students, workers and community supporters marched around the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) March 27 in a noisy and spirited display of support for campus workers who are trying to organize a union.

The rally began outside one of the main dining centers, and focused support for the custodial, dining service and facilities workers under the slogan, "We care for the workers who care for us."

Since passing out union cards a few weeks ago, RIT workers have faced a campaign of intimidation and warnings from management. Supervisors have corralled workers into "captive audience" meetings, and approached individual workers to threaten them with loss of their jobs, their tuition waivers, or other benefits.

In response, students have formed the United Student-Labor Alliance (USLA), to coordinate support for the union drive. They've collected hundreds of petition signatures calling on the RIT administration to cease its intimidation campaign and allow workers to have a real choice in deciding to form a union.

At the rally, USLA made a point of pausing the march beneath RIT President William Destler's office window, so he might hear some of the chants and speeches of the union supporters. Then, organizers took the march indoors and paraded--quietly this time--through RIT's three main dining centers to show solidarity with the workers still inside.

Workers at RIT will need continued encouragement and solidarity to force open the door to the first union organizing on campus. USLA is planning more actions to help the workers and Service Employees International Union Local 200 in their efforts.

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