Where does Notre Dame stand?
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In response to the recent Observer article “Students ask to cut ties from HEI” (May 15), we would like to clarify a few details about our position. We, as students in the Coalition for Economic Justice, support a card check neutrality agreement for HEI workers because that is what the workers want.
A recent study by MIT Sloan School of Management professor Thomas A. Kochan looked at over 22,000 union organizing drives from 1999 to 2005. The report found that partly because of employer intimidation in the workplace those who garnered enough support for a union election, only one in five attempts actually saw a union contract from their employer.
Workers at HEI are not ignorant to these facts. Workers have demanded a card check neutrality agreement so that they may make the decision whether or not to form a union in an environment free from fear and intimidation.
The director of the Notre Dame Investment Office, Scott Malpass, has defended HEI’s anti-card check stance even as he sat across from HEI employee and union committee leader, Hermen Romero, who had been laid off from the HEI Sheraton Crystal City supposedly for financial reasons when the week before the hotel was at 95 percent occupancy for more than six days out of seven. That same week, the company also laid off two dishwashers, one of whom is a father of four who had worked at the hotel for 18 years. Like Hermen, both dishwashers have participated in public union actions at the hotel.
Our Board of Trustees’s Social Responsibility Investment Policy states that the University will only invest in companies that uphold: “the basic moral values of fairness, respect for human life, defense of human rights and social justice.” Is it fair to allow a company to dictate how workers are allowed form and join unions? In signing the Social Responsibility Investment Policy the Board committed itself to “excluding from the portfolios securities of firms whose policies are inimical to the values the University espouses.” HEI is such a firm.
We are asking and will continue to ask that Notre Dame lives up to it’s Social Responsibility Investment Policy and divests from HEI.