Today, seven Loyola University Chicago graduate workers and their undergraduate student supporters were arrested during a peaceful protest over the school’s refusal to negotiate a fair union contract. The group, joined by undergraduates, faculty, community supporters, religious leaders, and State Senator Robert Peters planned to hold a sit-in blockade at President Rooney’s office until they were invited in to discuss job improvements. They were arrested shortly after.
“If Loyola administrators thought today’s arrests would intimidate us, they were wrong. Their actions leave us no other choice. The prospect of facing more weeks, months, semesters constantly worried about making ends meet intimidates us more than taking arrest. If this is what it takes to get a contract, so be it. We’re calling on all of our colleagues and students to join us in a walk out on April 24th if administrators don’t agree to a fair contract with graduate workers. If we don’t get a contract, it will no longer be business as usual.” -Yiran Zhang, PhD Candidate Philosophy
“In my last three years at Loyola, I have DOUBLED my debt from undergrad, accumulating over $35,000 in student loan and credit card debt in graduate school alone trying to get my basic needs met where my paycheck and health insurance falls short. I’ve pulled out money and maxed out credit cards to cover: All the times there’s too much month left at the end of the money, which is most months To cover the three months out of every. single. year that I’m left unemployed, with no assistance, expected to find a job that both covers Chicago rent and living expenses, but that I can also just quit when it’s time to resume my position and responsibilities full time at Loyola 3 months later. To cover all the medical bills the sad excuse for a health insurance policy we are given leaves me with due to its abysmal or non-existent coverage of basic medical and mental health services. With three years still left in the program, I CAN’T wait another two years for a contract!” -Liza Distefano, PhD Candidate Psychology
An email went out to 23,000 alumni asking them to pledge to donate once Loyola negotiates a fair contract with the graduate workers’ union, represented by Local 73. Letters of support from over 20 Catholic priests and nuns was delivered today along with the graduate workers’ demand to bargain letter, and their community support petition. Graduate workers wore W2s with the phrase “We Are Workers” written across it pinned to their shirts this Tax Day. If the IRS considers them workers, why doesn’t Loyola?
Graduate workers and allies are prepared to walk out on April 24th if Loyola doesn’t agree to begin negotiations.