Education is the big industry in Tompkins County; the second largest employer is Ithaca College. IC employees receive generous time off, benefits — and a living wage. But the dining workers do not share decent salaries and benefits because they work for Sodexo, a multinational subcontractor.The IC administration says that Sodexo can make its own decisions about how much they pay their employees.
A group of Ithaca College activist students disagree. They have formed a new group, the Labor Initiative In Promoting Solidarity (LIPS), which is working hard to ensure that Ithaca College adopt a statement of responsibility that requires IC to do business only with companies that pay their employees a living wage. Syracuse University dining employees, organized as SEIU members, are paid a living wage by Sodexo so it is known that Sodexo does that in our region. Now…How to budge the IC administration?
It’s a sad fact that university and college administrations often sit back and delay changes: the students who fight for justice graduate and move away and the issue goes away. In these uncertain times, support staff and academics are sometimes fearful of speaking up and losing their jobs. So who can help LIPS pressure the IC administration for change, and change soon?
Permanent members of the local community, that’s who. We live here, we work here, we have students and faculty and staff as neighbors and friends. We need to defend all members of our community, and help them make a living wage for their hard work. LIPS is asking all supporters of a living wage for all to sign their petition which will be presented to President Thomas Rochon at a meeting December 9th.
We’re proud to report that Kiera Lewis, Samantha Wolfe and Nate Bartman are three of the hard-working students who are LIPS organizers. Kiera is our current IC intern and Samantha interned with us last school year and summer. Nate has been steadily involved in the Ithaca Coffee Workers Union. They and their student colleagues at Ithaca College deserve great credit for standing up for others.