Operations Workers’ Continuing Struggle to Unionize Discussed At Teach-In

Emily Rogers ‘15 and Kelly Gilbert ‘15 sat in on the panel at the Right to Organize teach-in Courtesy SLC AV Department

Emily Rogers ‘15 and Kelly Gilbert ‘15 sat in on the panel at the Right to Organize teach-in
Courtesy SLC AV Department

The Right to Organize Teach-In brought students, faculty, and staff, even filmmaker Michael Moore, together to discuss the Sarah Lawrence Operations workers’ right to unionize and receive fair wages.

Facilitated by long-time history professor Priscilla Murolo in Reisinger Auditorium, the panel and audience deliberated the administration's refusal to meet directly with the Operations staff and compromise on fair wages and benefits.

Operations worker Patsy Moranu spoke of the administration's reaction to their decision to vote on unionization: “We got threatened that we would get laid off if we went union, they wouldn’t be able to afford us.”

Despite these threats, the twelve Operations workers that maintain the fifty-five buildings that make up SLC’s campus voted in late November, eleven-to-one, in favor of union representation. Despite this vote, however, Sarah Lawrence College has continued to work with Bond, Shoeneck & King, a law firm whose labor division specializes in destroying unions, to represent the college in negotiations with the Operations workers.

Operations staff member Salim Haddad stated the reasons unionization and higher wages are so important for the quality of the workers’ lives. “Every year it becomes increasingly tough to keep up with the demands to live a better lifestyle. We all want to live the American dream, we all want to own our own house, we want to get married, we want to be able to have kids and be able to provide for them.” What seem like obvious rights for hard working individuals become difficult without a supportive employer. Haddad continued, “They will look for every way to try to talk us out of going to the union and to say no to giving us a higher salary. We need the union, they have a bigger voice than we ever will. We know that if we work together we will make things right. We would like a fair agreement that will satisfy everyone.”

How could SLC, a place that prides itself on accepting and appreciating everyone have such a seemingly lack of appreciation for invaluable members of the community?

Moore exemplified how essential the Operations workers are, “When your toilet blows in the dorm, I’m guessing most people don’t go ‘Hey, step aside, I’ll take care of this.’ No, you freak out and pray that you can find one of these guys as soon as possible.” He added that the workers, “are not asking for a lot. They want some really simple things.”

As the conversation continued the students voiced their frustrations at the lack of transparency within the administration. For example, it is still not clear how much the college is paying the law firm and whether those costs would equal what the workers are asking. Further, students felt confusion about who to turn to for help. Murolo brought up the importance of students’ and faculty’s abilities to voice their opinions. “I think that it’s something that I didn’t understand when I was your age and I was in school that I understand now. A lot of the things I was afraid of speaking up for, and thought they will do this or that to me, they’re not going to do that and if they do we will be right behind you.”

“This is sad as a parent of a child who graduated from here,” Moore said, reflecting on his daughter’s experience at SLC. “We were really proud of the values that this school had and we would see students and how they processed things, how they would treat each other. There    were not a lot of places back then that you could go and be yourself.” He asked that, “this administration do the right thing to honor the values of this college and the people who work here.”

“We are committed to providing a safe, functioning environment on a daily basis. We all hope that Sarah Lawrence College will understand our needs to partner with the union,” Haddad said. A thumbs up has become a symbol of this movement, and students can show their support of the Operations workers by giving a thumbs up when they see them on campus.

The committee for Workers Justice, which is Chaired by Kelly Gilbert (’15), meets at 7 p.m. on Sundays in the North Room of the Pub and is gearing up for a long battle. What the organization does not know is whether the college is prepared for that long battle and the publicity that is bound to come from a liberal arts college doing its best to undermine its employees' efforts to unionize. As Senior Class Co-President Emily Rogers ('15) said during the panel, “With enough people I think we can change things, I think we are changing things.”

by MaryKatherine Michiels-Kibler

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Health services can do more for you than you think

photo by Samuel Yang '18

photo by Samuel Yang '18

Have you utilized all that Health & Wellness Services has to offer? Their vision is to support students in the development of healthy lifestyles and proactive choices that strengthen mind-body health and support our academic pursuits. With a wide range of programs and treatments (most of which are free), Health & Wellness Services is a resource that should not go untapped.

Health & Wellness Services is comprised of on-campus Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Clinical Social Workers, Clinical Psychologists and a Psychiatrist, all of whom are available to provide immediate and short-term care. There is no charge for office visits (Medical or Counseling & Psychological Services) and services are available for all students regardless of the student’s health insurance plan.

Health & Wellness Services also maintains an extensive network of medical and psychological professionals in the Westchester County and Manhattan areas, who are available to meet the needs of students requiring longer-term or more specialized care.

Besides offering treatments for short-term ailments, they also offer a range of counseling options. If you want individual therapy appointments you will be offered a consultation appointment, an intake appointment, and up to six one-on-one sessions free of charge per year.

New Self-Care Coaching sessions are also offered through Counseling & Psychological Services. Self-care coaching sessions are brief 30-minute appointments that allow students to receive support and develop an ongoing relationship with a Health and Wellness provider. The provider aids students in identifying personal strengths as well as effective tools for stress management by attending to the student’s physiological needs, such as sleep, nutrition and exercise (something from which we could all benefit). Appropriate referrals to the Health & Wellness medical treatment team may be made to address these issues.

Health & Wellness Services also offers group counseling. Groups currently running include anxiety management, mindfulness, eating disorder support, process therapy, life skills, and transitions groups.

Medical Services offers support to help students achieve Smoke Free SLC 8/1/15 with Smoking Cessation Groups and Individual Smoking Cessation sessions. They also offer Nicotine Replacement Therapy (Patch and/or Gum) at no charge, when a student is working with a Smoking Cessation Facilitator.

Birth Control prescriptions are provided for hormonal (pills, patches, ring and injectables) and non-hormonal (diaphragms and cervical caps) methods.  Students meet with a Nurse Practitioner to decide which method is best.

Do the long dark winters drag you down? Health & Wellness Services now has a Light Therapy Room and sessions are beneficial in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Full spectrum light therapy mimics the natural sunlight that is less available during the winter months. Otherwise known as phototherapy, full spectrum light therapy is a recognized modality for depression and is also the primary treatment for circadian rhythm sleep disorders.

Mindfulness Recordings (http://my.slc.edu/mindfulness) are a series of 12 guided mindfulness meditation recordings on MySLC. Practiced regularly (as little as 10 minutes a day), mindfulness can result in decreased stress and anxiety, increased concentration and awareness, improved sleep, and enhanced performance. They are of varying lengths that can be listened to or downloaded as a study break, to help settle the mind before bed, or any time you can find a moment to recharge.

If you have health questions that you want to ask a professional about, Health & Wellness Services offers Ask A Nurse Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Bates Dining Hall. A member of the Health Services Medical Staff provides information on relevant health topics and is available for questions. This affords students an opportunity to ask questions to a clinician without having to make an appointment. They provide information on nutrition, sleep, responsible self-care, illness prevention, stress management, travel vaccines, smoking cessation, and skin care.

Don’t miss out on free Flu Shots during the month of October. Flu Clinics are offered weekly in the Bates Faculty Dining Room. Each year over 400 flu shots are administered by Medical Services to the SLC community. Flu shots are offered at no charge to students and at $10 for Faculty and Staff.

While many services are free, students can accrue charges for some services. Examples of services that incur a charge to a student’s account include: strep test, pregnancy test, prescription medication dispensed during a visit, Plan B, HIV tests, and vaccines. However, these charges appear on your bill as “Health Services” and the specific nature of the charge is not identified.

Now that you know all that Health & Wellness Services can do for you, here is how to make an appointment. The Online Student Health (OSH) system is the method most widely used by students.  OSH may be accessed through MySLC: my.slc.edu/health (click on the link at the top right), and it allows students to select an appointment type and day and time that best meets their needs. If a student is not able to find a suitable appointment through OSH, they are directed to contact SLC Health & Wellness by phone at 914-395-2350.  If a student calls for an appointment, s/he is either provided with a same day appointment or is triaged by a Health & Wellness clinician over the phone. In response to student feedback, the afternoon block of Walk-in Hours which SLC Health & Wellness once offered has been redesigned.  SLC Health & Wellness Services now blocks Same-Day appointments in all clinicians’ calendars, which become available the evening before.

by Mary-Katherine Michiels-Kibler
Features Editor


SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.