Letter From the Editor: In Solidarity with SMG Workers
The Wesleyan Artifex Stands with SMG Workers
The Wesleyan Artifex stands in solidarity with the Service Management Group (SMG) workers and the students who are demanding a higher standard of labor practices from Wesleyan University. It is unacceptable for a University to capitalize on the activism of its students for upkeep of its open-minded and free reputation while also policing student protesters, disciplining organizers and participants, and refusing to meet demands which have been in talks for several years.
Labor issues have been a constant point of protest in the entire three years I have been at Wesleyan. The student group USLAC, who assists in contract negotiations and organized the protests, heard from employees of SMG that many of them were only brought on as short-term contract workers with the possibility for renewal. In this way, the company would save the expense of providing benefits for full-time workers, as well as job security.
On top of this, SMG workers are dangerously overworked. From the time SMG, previously named Sun Services, assumed the contract to the current year, they’ve cut ten employees; the student population has grown significantly. This being the primary concern of the protests significantly raised awareness of this issue all over campus. However, President Roth has faced this demand for several years now and continues to undercut the importance of raising the standards for this elite institutions’ relationship to labor. Wesleyan continuously uses the excuse of having “data” and adhering to legal guidelines to undermine the demands, as well as discredit the protestors and testimonies of workers.
Because SMG is a contractor, Wesleyan administrators have skirted responsibility for these degrading practices. Wesleyan has various other contracted services—dining, the bookstore—in which management and hiring practices have been called into question, and protests have taken place as students’ form of recourse.
Regardless of the legality of these offenses, it is within the rights of students to demand the hire of five more employees and an institutional change reflected in improved conditions for contracted workers on this campus.
With love and solidarity,
& The Staff of The Artifex