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Campus worker profile: Week seven

The Campus Workers’ Rights Coalition and members of CSRE 35SI: An Introduction to Labor Organizing have put together a series of profiles drawn from both archival and current interviews with workers on-campus to highlight both the struggles that workers at Stanford face and the resilience that they bring to the work they do. Campus workers often have to deal with chronic understaffing and difficult menial labor. Alongside this, Stanford does not pay its workers a living wage despite the rising costs of food, health, and housing in the Bay, and workers must often cover many of their own health costs because of a lack of insurance benefits while managing hours-long commutes due to a dearth of affordable housing.

Both the Campus Workers’ Rights Coalition and the members of CSRE 35SI believe that students can play a powerful role in supporting the rights of workers on campus. This is an especially pivotal time for students to get involved, since workers represented by SEIU Local 2007, a labor union on campus, will have their current contract expire this summer. This means that SEIU 2007 and Stanford University will enter contract negotiations and hopefully finalize a new contract that addresses workers’ needs. You can sign a petition to support the union in securing a fair contract here.

SEIU 2007 is one out of a few unions on campus, and this series features workers represented by USWW or SEIU 2007. We present both because there are many shared experiences between them. This the seventh profile in the series, and this profile was previously published on the Student And Labor Alliance’s Facebook page in 2016.

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My name is Inmar Liborio. I am from El Salvador, Central America. In my youth, I learned how to administer farms through working with my father. I learned both the theory and the practice. So I studied, I worked and I graduated as an accountant. I involved myself in my country’s agricultural reform over 15 years after living through the Civil War. I was part of a team of government officials, members of the army and North American consultants who implemented agricultural reform in my country.

And I was one of the people who, during agrarian reform, had to design all the necessary internal controls for more than 300 cooperatives that formed. I trained business managers, agronomists and accountants on how to manage a cooperative. We formed a team of more than 20 and began to implement all of the internal controls in my country. In the midst of this work I was sent to a special cooperative, the largest in my country, called Hacienda La Carrera. When I started working there, I felt as if land reform had been useless, and that went to the heart of it — that land reform was not working. But using my skills as an agronomist, an enterprise administrator and an accountant, I took control of that cooperative and began to manage it as best I could. This large cooperative had 14 different types of land use, and as we began to manage it properly we showed that yes, land reform was feasible, profitable and could move our country forward. We paid all of the previous administrators’ debts, and we started distributing bonds and improving farmers’ wages.

As part of that cooperative, we started receiving a lot of pressure from the army. They came from a regiment of a battalion, which was nearby, to make requests for all of their celebrations. They’d tell us that they wanted a cow, that they wanted a calf; they filled their trucks full of plantains. We had coconut plantations and they filled the trucks with coconut — this is to say that they were robbing us, or robbing the farmers, of the fruits of their labor. We had to report the situation to the army command center so that they would stop these people. Meanwhile, guerrilla forces were also asking us to pay them not to damage our crops. Between the two fires, the guerrillas and the army, both groups pressured us and we fled because they began to threaten us if we didn’t comply. My wife and my children had to flee to the United States, and later I did, too. While all this was happening, we endured as best we could, but we had to abandon not only the cooperative but also the country because we were threatened by both sides.

I have two boys and five girls. They were all born there, and some have immigrated here. Some are citizens and others aren’t yet. But thank God, they are well. I have one who is a digital sound engineer. I have one who has a degree in child therapy, and I have one who is a doctor living in North Carolina. My dream is to see my children well educated, and I am satisfied.

Yes, of course I miss my land. It is my country. It is the tiniest in all of America. But it is the heart of America. Yes, I miss it, it is my land, my family and I think everybody misses their homeland, as happy as we may be to be here in the United States. And as much as we have achieved the American dream, still our countries, our lands are in our hearts and we will always yearn to be on our land with our families.

While God gives me life, and while I have the strength to work, I hope to continue fighting for the workers. While I work here at Stanford or elsewhere and can represent my peers as a delegate or as a member of the executive table. That’s what my wish is, to keep fighting for people who need support, who need help, who need guidance. And then when my age comes to an end, I would love to rest, and maybe go for a walk with my wife, visit my grandchildren, my children. That would already be the twilight of my life, but I’d be full of satisfaction.

Contact Campus Workers’ Rights Coalition at stanfordworkersrights ‘at’ gmail.com.

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