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Campus worker profile: Week nine

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The Campus Workers’ Rights Coalition and members of CSRE35SI: 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 CSRE35SI 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 that SEIU 2007 and Stanford are entering contract negotiations and will 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 last in the series.

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Anonymous is from Morelos, Mexico. She lives in East Palo Alto with three of her children. She has three sons, age 23, 21 and 18, and a daughter who is 20 years old. Her parents still live in Mexico.

Before Stanford, she worked at a Ross. She hung clothes on hangers or worked as a cashier. It was more hectic because their breaks were shorter and she couldn’t really eat, since the line for the microwave was long and the line for the cashier also quickly became busy. She had to work fast and eat fast. She only worked there for two to three months; she doesn’t remember much about it because it was one of her first jobs. She then got a job at Stanford.

She has been working at Stanford for 18 years. In past, she worked at night from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. in Encina Hall for 11 years. When there was a chance to change to the morning shift, she was given the chance because of seniority.

She currently works the morning shift Monday through Friday at the Law School. In the morning, she cleans, then takes a break at 11 a.m., and then comes back and cleans the bathroom. On a regular day, she takes out trash; vacuums offices; dusts; refills snacks, tea and coffee; cleans the bathroom and makes sure it has enough supplies (like toilet paper, soap, paper towels, etc).

She goes home at 5 p.m. by bus. She cooks for about two hours for her and her children, and then they rest and go to sleep. She notes that it would be nice if Stanford gave service workers bus passes.

She says she is happy and lucky to be here, especially now that she works the morning instead of the night shift, because she gets to meet new people and talk with them a little bit. She likes it when students ask how she’s doing and thanks her for her work; she dislikes not being acknowledged when students pass her by. She says there are more grateful people than ungrateful.

She hopes for better wages, more benefits (there is currently healthcare coverage, but she fears losing it) and equality. Not everyone has the same contract; some people get more or less personal days, vacation days or sick days, etc., and she thinks they should all have the same contract.

Her oldest and youngest sons are in school. Her daughter and her other son are working. Her dream for the future is for her kids to have a better life, for them to get an education or do what makes them happy. She loves her family, her parents and her kids.

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

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