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The Daily Tar Heel

Students to aid in sit-out

New schedule change incites protest

Workers are preparing a sit-out in response to upcoming schedule changes, and students are coming together to aid the protest.

Student Action with Workers met Thursday night to discuss student participation in the demonstration.

Laurel Ashton, a SAW member, said the meeting aimed to unite students for the workers’ cause.

It was a follow-up to the organization’s meeting held earlier Thursday, in which members planned for the sit-out and discussed their aims with the public.

“We need to have a voice,” Ashton said.

“When we see these unjust working conditions, it’s important to mobilize students to work to help the situation from getting worse.”

The sit-out will take place April 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is being planned by some of the University’s maintenance workers.

Protest participants will be absent from work to sit on the steps of South Building.

The sit-out comes in response to the facilities services department eliminating a compressed schedule option that allows employees to work four 10-hour days per week instead of the standard five eight-hour days.

Thursday night’s student meeting went into closed session after 15 minutes to keep strategies private, members said.

Students also said they did not want to jeopardize the involved workers’ jobs, though University officials have previously said workers won’t be fired for protesting.

Members from the Black Student Movement, Students for a Democratic Society and SAW came to the second meeting as organizers. Students independent from organizations and a University groundskeeper also attended.

Edd Lovette, director of building services, and Van Dobson, executive director for facilities services and chief facilities officer, said the changes will make the University more efficient and will save money in light of a campuswide 5 percent budget cut.

They said the change will stabilize the number of workers on campus each day.

But workers and the students joining them said the change will not save money or ensure efficiency in the department.

Ana Maria Reichenbach, a SAW member, said workers have complained that the change will affect their lives outside their job.

“There are workers who have second jobs that are apart from the University and this change would not allow them to have that second job,” she said.

“Some workers also have schoolwork to do on that other day.”

Ashton said the University officials’ claims are unfounded.

Ashton said students need to realize the cause’s importance, adding that if protestors succeed they could prevent similar workers’ rights issues in the future.

“Workers’ rights are important because one day we’re going to be workers, and students need to know what’s going on,” Ashton said.

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Amanda Ellis, a junior not representing any student organizations, said she wants to change the way students and administrators treat workers.

“A lot of times, we reduce what these workers do to make the University what it is, and that’s not fair,” Ellis said.

“Human life is the most precious thing in the world and when I see it being taken advantage of, I need to stand up for it,” she added.

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com

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