By Smiti Mittal
Students for Workers’ Rights (SWR) is working to raise $30,000 before Aug. 1 with the hopes of providing $500 grants to all Row and Suites workers the University has laid off for the upcoming academic year due to COVID-19 cuts.
Assistant Vice Provost for Residential Education Cheryl Brown announced the layoffs in an email last month to prospective student staff, writing that the University will not “engage the services” of Student Organized Services (SOS) and Governor’s Corner Dining Society (GCDS), two subcontractors Stanford hires service workers through, for the upcoming academic year.
SWR announced the fundraiser on July 7, aiming to raise a total of $30,000 via PayPal, Venmo and GoFundMe donations in the upcoming 20 days in order to “give a last round of payments to every laid off Row worker (SOS and Suites).” As of July 20, they have raised $10,253.
The announcement followed a July 1 Instagram post where SWR listed the ways Stanford is “failing service workers.” This list included Stanford laying off all Row service workers, refusing the hazard pay requested by subcontracted workers and breaking their promise of pay continuance until August for workers employed by UG2, a national custodial service Stanford contracts with.
University spokesperson E. J. Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily that Stanford continues to uphold its current commitment to contract workers, including those employed by UG2, through Aug. 31. Miranda declined to comment specifically on SWR’s fundraiser, adding that the issue of additional compensation for workers is one for discussion between contractors and employees.
“During the unprecedented disruption caused by the pandemic, we have worked closely with our contracting firms to ensure that between financial assistance provided by Stanford and the availability of government unemployment programs, these firms’ employees are maintaining full income and health benefits,” Miranda wrote.
SWR anticipates 56 SOS workers and four Suites staff being “laid off,” leading to a total of 60 workers who will benefit from their $500 grants, according to SWR member and recent Stanford alumnus, Sarah Goodman ’20.
Goodman wrote in a statement to The Daily that the distribution of these funds may change according to need, but added that, as a whole, SWR is working “to mobilize Stanford resources in response to abrupt layoffs and crisis.”
Goodman wrote that while this is the final push in their fundraising efforts relating to the present crisis, SWR hoped to “engage the rest of the Stanford community to focus on long-term advocacy and institutional change to more sustainably support workers in the future.”
The University has committed to providing SOS and GCDS staff support equivalent to “four weeks of compensation for its unemployed staff as a gesture of gratitude and goodwill” according to Brown’s email. She also wrote that the University has not yet begun to plan for food service beyond the upcoming academic year.
Contact Smiti Mittal at smiti06 ‘at’ stanford.edu.