Hey everybody, we’ve been fasting and camping out in White Plaza since Thursday. We’re going to keep going until the university agrees to follow up on its rhetoric and pay all Stanford workers a living wage. We’ll try to use this space to keep people updated about what’s going on and how we’re doing. You can also check out our website. Anyway, I’ll try to put a real post later today when I get some time.
Why are students fasting?
You may be wondering: why are students taking such a drastic action, putting their lives on the line?
Our Vision for Stanford
As an academic institution, Stanford is an undisputed leader. But Stanford’s role in the community goes much furtner – Stanford is the largest employer in Santa Clara county, and the decisions it makes affect our local communities. We’re challenging the University to become the model employer it claims to be. Stanford can and must become an ethical leader, setting a positive example even as it effects vital, immediate change in its sphere of local influence.
To that end, we’re putting forward a series of proposals — for the most part, asking the University to live up to the commitments it’s already made. The living wage, the principle of wage parity, guarantees to protect workers’ right to organize, and educational opportunities for workers have all been endorsed and implemented at Stanford. But their implementation has been incomplete, heavily qualified, and subject to frequent exception and violation – and this leaves large groups of workers underpaid, underprotected and on unequal terms with their peers. For Stanford to demonstrate and live up to its ideals, we want them to make real, unequivocal guarantees for labor justice on campus: a living wage, educational opportunities and wage parity guarantees that apply to all workers, regardless of worksite and of subcontracted, temporary or casual status; protections for the right to organize and for frequently-abused tempoarary workers; and transparent, democratic, and accountable mechanisms for implementing and reporting on labor policy.
What brought us to this point
This hunger strike comes as the culmination of a long series of requests, protests, actions and escalations on the part of the students — and, on the part of the university, unfulfilled commitments followed by several refusals to negotiate. It has been half a decade since SLAC first asked the university to show respect for its workers by creating a real living wage policy. In 2003, it took a seven-day hunger strike before President Hennessey agreed to negotiate with SLAC about removing the disabling restrictions on the current policy. We agreed to end the 2003 hunger strike because Hennessy agreed to take steps toward a living wage policy: he agreed to convene a committee on labor issues to review the current living wage policy and make recommendations. The committee reported that they could not find a single worker that the living wage policy protected, and recommended that restrictions be removed. Yet the university refused to take action: this past December, four years after the initial protests, the university finally reported that they do not intend to change anything about the living wage policy, and they refused to meet for further negotiations. Due to the university’s repeated refusal not only to amend the policy but also to meet to discuss the situation, it has come time for an action the university cannot ignore. Since the recommendations of the PAC and the charge of the ASSU have proven insufficient, we are adding our voices and our bodies themselves to the call.