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|Georgetown Victory is Latest Win For Student Workers' Rights Campaign|
Student Activists to be honored at American Rights at Work Awards Ceremony on March 31st
WASHINGTON, DC—After three years of campaigning, nine days of hunger striking and 270 pounds lost, students have won a living wage for Georgetown University employees. The university also reaffirmed workers' rights to organize unions without interference from the university, and agreed to equal pay for equal work and equal access to resources and benefits for all employees.
Yesterday's victory by Georgetown students is one of a number of campaigns for workers' rights that significantly benefited from student activism. In March, Taco Bell reached an agreement with produce supplying farmworkers that ended a national "Boot the Bell" boycott that led 22 colleges and high schools to remove Taco Bell restaurants and products from campuses. Also, students in North Carolina and across the country marked the beginning of their academic year with a victory for workers at the Mt. Olive Pickle Company. On September 16, 2004, the employer and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee reached a historic labor agreement that brings better working conditions and the freedom to form unions to 8,000 farmworkers.
"Thank goodness for these students' courage and conviction," says Mary Beth Maxwell, Executive Director of American Rights at Work, a national workers' rights advocacy organization. "Their actions not only help define fairness in the workplace, but push us all to build the kind of world we want to create for future generations."
Many students participating in these campaigns have also demonstrated their support for workers' rights through involvement in the National Student Labor Week of Action. Hundreds of actions take place every year as part of the Week of Action, which commences March 31 in honor of Cesar Chavez's birthday, and ends April 4 in commemoration of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Memphis sanitation workers strike. This national effort to support local and national economic justice campaigns is led by the Student Labor Action Project of Jobs with Justice and the United States Student Association, who work with five partnering organizations: United Students Against Sweatshops, Student/Farmworker Alliance, Not with our Money!, Student Action with Farmworkers, and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlàn.
American Rights at Work will honor the student activists at its first annual Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Awards Celebration on March 31. Roosevelt was instrumental in the passage of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to form and join trade unions.'"
"Like Eleanor Roosevelt, student organizers of the National Student Labor Week of Action use their talents and influence to advance the understanding of workers' rights as a cornerstone of human rights and social justice," says Bonior.
Other honorees include visionary artist and activist Ossie Davis and two employers with good labor relations models, Catholic Heathcare West and Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Actor Brad Whitford of NBC's "The West Wing," who is also an American Rights at Work Board member, will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the event at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.
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American Rights at Work is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the freedom of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers.