By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Union organizers and community leaders rallied for Brown University dining service employees and Rhode Island janitors who are campaigning for new contracts in a Labor Day gathering at the school’s College Hill campus Monday.
Marching from Brown University to the city’s Financial District, the rally was meant to call on the state’s largest employers and America’s healthiest corporations to help rebuild the middle class.
“Economically powerful institutions like Brown can set the standards for workers in the area and can set the tone of economic recovery for Rhode Island,” said Mike Sylvester, assistant director of the higher education division at SEIU Local 615, one of the rally’s sponsors, in a statement. “As we prepare to negotiate a new contract for dining service workers we are calling on Brown to share its success with its lowest paid worker: to maintain access to quality, affordable health care and to promote stable employment.”
The Brown Food Service contract expires Oct. 12 and the janitor’s contract expires Sept. 30.
There are 180 Brown University dining service workers.
“Many middle-class jobs have left the state, but thousands of janitors like me clean the most important companies and institutions in Rhode Island,” said Laura Caceres, a contracted janitor in downtown Providence, in a statement. “We call on them to reward our hard work and offer wages that can provide security for me and my family and those of my co-workers.”
The march and rally was sponsored by SEIU Local 615, Rhode Island Jobs with Justice, Feurza Laboral, the We Are All Arizona Coalition, and Direct Action for Rights and Equality.