by Korey Hartwich | May 22, 2012
Workers and students join together at Florida International University (Photo by Latashia Moseley)
Across the country, AFSCME is engaging young people as a key part of the Main Street movement, and is developing young worker activists and leaders. We’re building alliances with organizations of pro-labor student groups and now AFSCME is launching a partnership with United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) as part of their Campus Community Solidarity Campaigns.
Higher education in America employs 1.5 million non-instructional staff nationwide, a 24-percent increase in the last decade alone. At the same time, public higher education faces staggering budget cuts, putting education for the nation’s young people at risk and threatening the livelihoods of higher education workers.
AFSCME represents 150,000 higher education workers and continues to look for opportunities to help more workers get a voice on the job.
At universities in Florida and Ohio, we’re making progress in bringing workers and students together to stand for justice and a better future. At Florida International University, students and workers recently had a bilingual dinner discussion of the challenges they face and about coming together as a community.
“We are here and we aren’t going anywhere. This is a family,” said a maintenance mechanic on the FIU team [Note: FIU workers identities are protected because they are at will and do not have a ‘just cause’ clause in their contract].
When a worker mentioned her son who is an FIU student, and students recognized several workers they knew from around campus, connections were formed which provide a base for this budding relationship. They plan to work together over the summer months to help strengthen and develop this important partnership.
“It was good to meet the workers and know what they are going through,” said Joey Basna, a student at Florida International University. “It sheds new light on the university and how it treats employees.”