The library workers’ contract was extended again, to November 8. The university is refusing to back down from its harmful proposals that would hurt working families. Library workers have voted to authorize a strike. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alums, and parents have voiced their support for a fair library contract with affordable health care.
In her public statements to the Brown Daily Herald, Vice President Huidekoper justified the proposed increases in health care costs by suggesting that the library workers’ contributions have been below “the market.” Citing the higher health care payments of workers at University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and Providence College, Huidekoper argued that the workers should pay more to be in line with the “market average” in the area. She also cited Brown’s projected budget deficit for this year. But given the administration’s continued investment in multi-billion dollar building projects, their decision to use last year’s tuition surplus to fast-track the Campus Center renovations, their purchasing of plasma TVs for the cafeterias with profit earned from Dining Services, and a myriad other spending choices that reflect the University’s true priorities, this profession of financial woes rings more than a little untrue.
Moreover, by comparing Brown workers’ benefits to those of colleges in Rhode Island—institutions without multi-billion dollar endowments—instead of the schools Brown generally counts among its “peers”—Yale, Harvard, and other Ivies—the administration has tried to avoid accountability to the higher standards entailed by Brown’s wealth and status.
Ultimately, this debate comes down to questions of community, and valuing the crucial role library workers play in the daily functioning of our school. To support those of our community members currently facing attacks on their access to affordable health care, we will once again be rallying, this time outside of University Hall on Friday, November 5 at 2pm. This will be an escalation from our last rally–the university has made it clear that it won’t back down, and neither will students, faculty, and all members of the Brown community committed to economic justice and fair treatment.
To repeat: Rally, Friday November 5, 2pm, outside University Hall. We demand a fair contract NOW!
p.s. If you haven’t already, please send an email!