1,000 signatures reached
To: President Alivisatos and the UChicago Board of Trustees
Support Teamsters Local 743!
We are academic staff, fellow union members, and community supporters calling on the UChicago community to join us in our support for the members of Teamsters Local 743 as they bargain their contract.
Why is this important?
The University of Chicago is the largest private sector employer on the South Side of Chicago. It is also an institution with a long history of anti-union and anti-worker activity; from refusing to bargain with the United Public Workers-CIO for not filing non-Communist affidavits in 1948, to refusing to bargain with the Student Library Employees Union in 2017, claiming they were “temporary” workers. To date, the University refuses to acknowledge Graduate Students United, despite encouraging the vote in 2017. This trend has continued during the pandemic. University administration unilaterally stripped away retirement benefits from workers, including frontline healthcare and essential service workers, while receiving tens of millions of dollars in federal pandemic aid.
The past two years have shown that the University would be unable to offer its most basic services without the labor of its union workers. Yet these employees are typically the lowest compensated in a unit. Employees with decades of experience are making near minimum wage, while the University posts record endowment numbers. Many union workers are in understaffed departments, doing the work of multiple people, because of the University's history of devaluing workers. These employees made up a majority of “essential workers” required to work on site before vaccinations were available and during the Delta and Omicron case surges. Hundreds of these workers were infected by COVID and several are now permanently disabled. Yet, their benefits are far fewer than those offered to academic and administrative employees able to work from home, leaving them at much higher risk of exposure to COVID19 and less able to obtain and afford the needed treatment. These employees are often subject to rigid controls over their work spaces and hours, as well as surveillance and harsh discipline from supervisors and administrators.
Every aspect of our community is affected when union workers are mistreated. Worker conditions are research and learning conditions, but their work is often invisible to the rest of the campus community. Teamsters 743 members provide us help in the student wellness clinics and in residence halls, they further the research mission of the University at the Library and at the UChicago Press, they do the clerical work that keeps many of our academic departments and Lab School running, and they even maintain the buildings we live in. This is labor that keeps this University functioning.
The existing contract for Teamsters Local 743 has poverty wages at its lower pay scale, where hundreds of Teamster members are being left behind in an era of unprecedented inflation of the cost of living, housing, food, and gas that is not being matched with raises in wages. There is no clear path to a better living for them despite giving the University decades of service. Most of these workers are people of color living on the South Side of Chicago, a community that the University claims to support, except when it comes to paying them for their labor. The University of Chicago must provide the Teamsters with a fair contract with appropriate compensation through which its members can thrive.
Take a solidarity pic with a UChicago Teamster! Post and tag #SupportUChicagoTeamsters.