Letter to the editors: support for St. Moritz workers

Dear Campus editors,

We are writing to express student support for the workers of St. Moritz in their upcoming contract negotiations. These workers play a vital role as part of our community, are essential to the operation of Allegheny College, and are crucial to a healthy living environment. Without the work of St. Moritz workers, the academic, residential and administrative buildings that the Allegheny community relies upon would be unable to function. While we often take clean spaces for granted, the workers of St. Moritz work daily to ensure that all members of our community have access to a quality learning environment. As recent events have shown us, public health is essential for the proper functioning of a residential educational community, and Allegheny College has a commitment to ensuring the health of students. 

A vital part of keeping the student body healthy is the clean environment that St. Moritz workers provide for us daily. It is important to recognize the value of these contributions to the well-being of our community. Likewise, it is important to ensure the well-being of the workers who make these contributions through improved compensation for their work.

We are a community that values treating everyone with respect and fairness. Our Statement of Community says, “Allegheny students and employees are committed to creating an inclusive, respectful and safe residential learning community.” The workers of St. Moritz are essential to creating and upholding the vision presented in this statement. Because of this, we expect Allegheny College to uphold this vision through its actions involving the companies with which it contracts.

While we understand that Allegheny cannot directly intervene in a union contract negotiation, students believe that the companies contracted to do work for the college should align with the type of community we want to be. Workers, like the housekeepers, make up a vital and a valued part of our campus community and we believe that the college, as an institution, should be mindful of how companies treat their workers when deciding which companies receive future contracts from the college.

As students, we are committed to upholding the values of our community and we will be watching the contract negotiations closely to ensure that the workers of St. Moritz are respected and fairly compensated for their contributions to the Allegheny College community.

Over our time at Allegheny, the workers of St. Moritz have made important contributions to our community and well-being. 

During this contract negotiation, workers will be pushing for increased wages, benefits and the possibility of increased hazard pay. While these issues may seem disconnected from daily student life, they are not. This is because the workers of St. Moritz are not just custodial workers, but a part of our community. We see them everyday and the work they do is important to ensuring the quality of our learning. When students work to advocate for the needs of those in our community, we can work towards building a more equitable and resilient community that looks after each other. In these stressful and hard times we find ourselves disconnected from each other. Through providing student support for workers we can show that we are in this together. We talk a lot about an “Allegheny College Community,” but this is a real opportunity to make this community mean something. Now more than ever, we need to stand up and advocate not only for ourselves and those like us, but those who we rely upon to live healthy and safe lives.

Additionally, these workers played a key role in our return to campus with increased cleanings. Without their work, there would be no guarantee of a safe living environment for students as well as the ability to use academic buildings for in-person classes. These workers have been a bedrock of our return to campus, and a way students can support and show thanks to the workers is through supporting them during contract negotiations. The term “essential worker” has become common over the past eight months, and there is no more appropriate use of the term when discussing the workers of St. Moritz. They are essential to our health, quality of education and function as an institution. As such, their needs should also be treated as essential. Students should stand up in support of these workers because when we needed them they went above and beyond. 

To start to take action and stay in the loop, please follow @alleghenycoalitionforlabor on Instagram and message [email protected] with any questions. 

We should live up to the values expressed in the Statement of Community and make sure that everyone on campus is treated fairly and with respect.