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No more fear, union welcome

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, November 9, 2008

For the past three years I have talked with Notre Dame workers about their jobs, their lives and their hopes for the future. Stories of family, friends and community often turn into a discussion on paychecks, benefits and respect in the workplace. The workers on our campus are some of the most dedicated, loving people I have ever met. But they are too often denied a voice at our University and they fear that speaking out will result in punishment.After years of organizing with workers through the Campus Labor Action Project (CLAP), I have come to see that wages are only one of many concerns for workers at our University. The lack of respect, the feeling of isolation in a place that prides itself on community and a culture of fear in the workplace are all concerns I consistently hear from workers.CLAP has recently begun a campaign to support Notre Dame workers by supporting their right to organize a union. Our federal law, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all sanction the right to unionize. As the United States Council of Catholic Bishops wrote, the basic rights of all workers includes specifically “the organization and joining of unions.”A worker here at Notre Dame, a friend now for over three years, has told me the story of what happened when an airline he worked with tried to form a union. My friend remembers how the corporate management pressured workers to oppose the union and when it looked like the union might win, workers supporting the union were fired systematically. In a recent letter sent by President John Jenkins to students concerned with the issues of labor rights, he said: “A situation in which we find that the legally protected rights of workers are infringed upon is unacceptable to the University.” We, as the University community, must hold our administrators to their words. We must allow for a free, fair and open dialogue about the rights of workers to organize a union on campus.As a member of CLAP, I ask all the members of the Notre Dame community to support our University workers. Our community must be a place free from fear where all members are able to speak up. You can support workers by signing a Union Support Card which recognizes and respects the right of Notre Dame workers to form a union. Cards can be found by contacting any CLAP member. Together we can show that Notre Dame will not be a place of fear and that a union is welcome here.

Michael Angulosenioroff-campusNov. 7