Their demands wavered through the October morning sky against the steady rain and the frigid cold. Despite a 7 a.m. call time, these demonstrators showed up.
And through their list of demands, one stands out.
“We are here today to call on DePaul administration to do the right thing. To drop a contractor that will treat workers with this much disrespect and to find someone that will use our tuition dollars the right way.”
Some members of the DePaul community are calling on the university to end its contract with Guardian Security Services, a company that employs 15 people who guard the residence hall desks from midnight to 8 am. Recently, five of those employees went on a one-day strike, seeking better pay and improved working conditions. Service Employee International Union has been supporting the workers since they became aware of the situation.
“We are here with you. We will support you and we will continue to fight for what you believe in.”
SEIU says workers who have tried to demand for better working conditions were retaliated against. One of their demands is affordable healthcare. Though healthcare packages are provided under Guardian Services Security contract, some workers say it’s too expensive.
“They’re fighting for decent living wages, paid time off, affordable health care, basic retirement all the things that anyone doing this hard work keeping these students safe deserve, and we are all here to support them.”
SEIU says on average, guardian residence hall workers are paid $11.50 an hour. Guardian Security Services had no comment regarding the strike. The made this comment:““Guardian’s business operations and employment practices are independent from DePaul.”
But many say they shouldn’t be.
Nearly 1,000 students signed a petition in support of the Guardian workers and organizers’ demand for DePaul to hire a different contractor.
Michael Cuaresma, a DePaul alum and organizer in this campaign, says they’ll keep pushing the university to change contractors for these employees.
“If people don’t start listening, then we’re going to yell, then we’re going to roar and that’s just what we have to do.”
The question remains as to why the public safety officers who patrol campus and campus buildings are not contracted under Guardian Service, but through the university. VP of Facilities Bob Janis said the residence hall workers’ “role is very limited. Important… but very limited.”