Workers, students, and community leaders rallied on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, to ask that the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents halt its plan to the privatize campus dining services. Members of the EMU community voiced deeps concerns about the lack of transparency and inclusivity in the decision-making process that led the Board to vote unanimously to privatize dining services with Chartwells, a subsidiary of Compass Group.
Chartwells has promised to invest millions at EMU, increase food quality, and pay the university for the contract. They also claim that they will source local ingredients, though they define “local” to include cities as far away as Buffalo, New York and Chicago, Illinois. Despite its lofty promises, Chartwells must generate profit. Profit will be made on the backs of workers and students.
The consequences of privatization are stark:
- New workers hired by Chartwells will have greatly reduced benefits that will be nearly impossible for them to afford, far fewer job protections, and lower wages.
- Chartwells will have a strong financial incentive to get rid of the EMU bargaining unit employees to be able to hire more poverty level wage employees.
The solutions are clear:
- EMU administrators and the Board must consult with stakeholders on campus and in the surrounding community. Working people, students, and community representatives should be included in the decisions that shape their lives.
- Students, working people, and the community must organize together to lower the cost of education, reaffirm the rights of workers, and reestablish democracy on EMU’s campus.
Thank you to all those who stood with students and working people to promote an economy that works for all people, including:
Please join HVALF, Eastern Michigan University staff, faculty, and students, and Veterans’ Administration Hospital workers for two events next week opposing privatization initiatives in Washtenaw County:
(1) EMU Food services, Tuesday, June 21st – Rally at 11am, outside Welch Hall*, Eastern Michigan University Campus, Ypsilanti, and Regents meeting at 1pm, Room 201 Welch Hall. EMU Flyer (PDF)
(2) VA Hospital, Wednesday, June 22nd, from 11am to 1pm, 2215 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor. Rally in front of hospital. VA Hospital Flyer
Please come to one or both if you can, and forward widely to friends and allies whether or not you can come in person.
A year does not go by without initiatives to privatize more public services in our county. This steady drip, drip, drip is, cumulatively, a major contributor to the growing share of Washtenaw County’s people who don’t earn enough to meet the United Way’s “basic needs” budget. See the Growing Together or Drifting Apart report for the details on this trend.
We need to stop this trend in its tracks, and reverse it where possible. But that’s not going to happen without a struggle. Powerful vested interests benefit from privatization — financially (extracting shareholder profits from tax payer money — think charter schools), politically (by weakening organized labor, which resists their redistribute to the 1% agenda) and ideologically (if 75% of higher ed institutions contract out food services, it must be the right thing to do! 10,000 lemmings can’t be wrong). These self-interested actors will not stop pushing for more and more privatization until we stand up and say Enough!
In the words of Frederick Douglass, who knew something about challenging entrenched power structures, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.”
Truer words were never spoken. Please stand with us next week.
*For directions to EMU’s Welch Hall, please see this campus map. There is Visitor Parking in the nearby Bowen, McKinney, and Student Center lots, accessible from Oakwood Street. See http://www.emich.edu/parking/documents/parking_map.pdf .
For more background on the food service privatization, Eclectablog has a good summary.
Please join the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation and others from the local labor community for a press conference addressing our response to EMU’s proposed food service privatization.
When: 5 PM Tuesday 6/14
Where: Halle Auditorium, EMU Library (lower level), 955 W. Circle Drive, Ypsilanti MI.
Parking: There is Visitor Parking in the nearby Bowen, McKinney, and Student Center lots, accessible from Oakwood Street. See http://www.emich.edu/parking/documents/parking_map.pdf .
HVALF State House Recommendations and Local Government Endorsements (June 8, 2016)
At our April 7, 2016 meeting, the HVALF’s delegates discussed and voted on the recommendations of our Committee on Political Education (COPE) as regards state house and local elections.
- HVALF sends email invitations to all candidates in elections in which HVALF has taken an interest
- Candidates will be considered if they fill out the HVALF’s on-line questionnaire, the link is included in the invitation email; no-one who does not fill out the questionnaire will be recommended or endorsed
- Everyone who fills out an HVALF questionnaire is invited to meet with the HVALF’s Committee on Political Education (COPE) for a short (15 minutes) interview
- The COPE discusses information gathered from the questionnaire, the interview and other sources, and makes recommendations to the full HVALF delegate body at its next monthly meeting
- The delegate body discusses the COPE’s recommendations and votes on each.
2016 State House Recommendations
With respect to STATE HOUSE seats, the HVALF does not endorse; we make recommendations to the Michigan AFL-CIO on who we think they should endorse. Here are our recommendations:
- State House #42 (Livingston): Timothy Johnson
- State House #52 (Washtenaw): Barbara Fuller
- State House #53 (Washtenaw): Yousef Rabhi
- State House #54 (Washtenaw): Ronnie Peterson
- State House #55 (Washtenaw): Adam Zemke
- State House #64 (Jackson): Ronald Kenneth Brooks
2016 Local Government Endorsements
With respect to local elections, the HVALF normally has the final word on AFL-CIO endorsements. Here are our endorsements:
WASHTENAW COUNTY COMMISSION
- District 1: Kent Martinez-Kratz
- District 2: Michelle Deatrick
- District 4: Felicia Brabec
- District 6: Ricky Lee Jefferson
- District 7: Andy LaBarre
- District 8: Jason Morgan
- District 9: Conan Smith
WASHTENAW COUNTY TREASURER
WASHTENAW COUNTY SHERIFF
LIVINGSTON COUNTY COMMISSION
ANN ARBOR CITY COUNCIL
- Ward 1: Sumi Kailasapathy
- Ward 2: Kirk Westphal
- Ward 3: Julie Grand
- Ward 4: Graydon Krapohl
- Ward 5: Chuck Warpehoski
YPSILANTI CITY COUNCIL
- Ward 1: Lois Elizabeth Richardson
- Ward 2: Jennifer Symanns
- Ward 3: Peter Murdock
- Supervisor: Brenda Stumbo
- Treasurer: Larry Doe
- Clerk: Karen Lovejoy Roe
- Trustees (4 seats): Mike Martin, Jimmie Wilson Jr., Stanley Eldrich, and Scott Douglas Martin
- Park Commissioner: Gloria Peterson
- Supervisor: Mandy Grewal
- Treasurer: Pat Scribner
- Clerk: Michelle Anzaldi
- Trustees (4 seats): Linda Edwards Brown, Gerald Krone, George Ralph, and Yameen Jaffer
Trustee: Roderick Kevin Green
HAMBURG TOWNSHIP (Livingston County)
Trustee: Dan Luria