The university averted a catastrophe last week when it met the demands of the two unions that represent the interests service workers who work on the River Campus and at Strong Hospital. The unions had threatened to strike yesterday if their demands ? including keeping their current health care plan, a larger raise and job training ? were not met by UR.

A justifiable strike, which would have coincided with the beginning of Meliora Weekend, would have destroyed a weekend which is meant to be a celebration of the ideals of the university. Not only would basic services have been severely crippled but quite possibly several big name speakers would have canceled their appearances. Luckily, this situation did not play out. The university capitulated to the demands of the workers, including training, a 10 percent wage increase and retention of their health insurance package.

We applaud them for reaching an agreement but it shouldn’t have come to this. SEIU 1999, the union that represents service workers at Strong, has been working without a contract since June 1 and negotiations between the two sides didn’t even begin until six weeks later. It took union threats of a sit-in in Wallis Hall and a strike over Meliora Weekend for the university to begin making efforts to come to terms with the union.

The two points of contention in the debate ? a reasonable and appropriate health care plan and a raise to match cost of living increases over the past two years ? were not steep demands from the union. Workers who make just under an average of $21,000 a year should have the right to adequate healthcare for themselves and their families. And, a cost-cutting measure from a health care system that turned a $43 million dollar profit over the past two years is deplorable.

Meliora should be more than just a slogan and the name of a weekend. The belief, “always better,” must permeate everything the university does from our education, interactions with the community and treatment of its workers. If it excludes any part of UR , then Meliora is meaningless.

Our university should serve as an example of how things should be. A university is not a business like any other ? there are things more important than profit margins and if we forget that, what are we really teaching?



The Clothesline Project gives a voice to the unheard

The Clothesline Project was started in 1990 when founder Carol Chichetto hung a clothesline with 31 shirts designed by survivors of domestic abuse, rape, and childhood sexual assault.

An open letter to all members of any university community

I strongly oppose the proposed divestment resolution. This resolution is nothing more than another ugly manifestation of antisemitism at the University.

Live updates: Wallis Hall sit-ins

Editor’s Note (5/4/24): This article is no longer being updated. For our most up to date coverage, look for articles…