Student Labor Alliance members, students, and alumni as well as Dining Services and libraries workers and organizers from the international labor group Unite Here gathered on the steps outside the Rockefeller Library today for a rally against the 60 staff layoffs the University announced in March.
The ralliers were upset with the way in which the layoffs were carried out, arguing that they were done in secret so that the University could not be held accountable for its decisions.
Associate Professor of History Naoko Shibusawa expressed concern that the staff layoffs would put an increased burden on faculty.
Labor advocates were relieved last week to hear that Swearer Center Program Manager Janet Isserlis, one of the 60 who was to be laid off in June, would continue working there. The announcement came after an outpouring of support for Isserlis’ work from the community, students, and alumni in letters to administrators.
SLA member Haley Kossek ’13 told the crowd that though administrators have said the cuts are final, activists “can fight back, regardless of this language of inevitability,” commenting that the University used similar language in the Brown Dining Services negotiations, but ultimately budged on its position then like it did last week with Isserlis’ position.
After the rally, which lasted about 45 minutes, a large group marched around the Main Green to University Hall, where they met with a Brown University Police officer waiting to escort a handful of students around the building. They delivered petitions to administrators including the offices of the President Ruth Simmons and Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98, and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Beppie Huidekoper herself.