Students March in Support of Bridge Workers

By Student/Worker Solidarity Network

 

On Friday April 1, over 150 students from the Student/Worker Solidarity Network marched from the dining commons to the office of Mary McEneany, VP of Finance and Treasurer, to demand that Bridge workers be guaranteed their jobs, wages, benefits, and union contract during a transition to a new vendor. We also demanded that students be given decision making power in this and all future vendor transitions.

Our protest sent a clear, strong message that Hampshire students will not stand by and watch the administration make decisions without our input. Our march was in support of the workers, not in support of Bon Appetit staying at Hampshire; our vision involved workers retaining their jobs during a transition to a new vendor at the Bridge Cafe, as well any future vendor transitions.

The transition that was being crafted by the upper administration (without student or worker input) was designed to increase local purchasing, and was likely to be superior in quality to what Bon Appetit currently provides. However, it was also a flawed plan: it did not include student input, left many needs unaddressed, and was based on employment practices that were actively opposed by the workers’ union.

Unfortunately, the administration felt that that the only way to meet our demands was to call off the vendor transition for this semester, and begin a new process that will develop over the next year. We had clearly communicated to Mary McEneany that we were excited about the new vendor; so on Sunday, we were dismayed to hear that instead of incorporating student and worker feedback into this process, the process would be starting over from scratch.

Our dream is of a food system that embodies all of our values; this is impossible without the voices of the students and workers. This requires structural changes in the way decisions are made. As we find new vendors for the Bridge Cafe, Kern Kafe, Prescott Tavern, and Dining Commons, we are committed to finding a solution that meets the needs of EVERYONE at Hampshire. This will only be achieved through continued pressure on the administration to engage our entire community.

If you have questions, criticisms, concerns, ideas or want to get involved please contact swsn.hampshire@gmail.com, or get in touch by messaging the Facebook page Student <-> Worker Solidarity Hampshire College.

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