Panelists discussed state and graduate workers' rights as well as how the University can organize in support of these rights at the "Workers Rights at the University Teach-In" discussion Wednesday.
This was the second event in the People’s Teach-In-Series hosted by Respect For All Tar Heels, a series of discussions focused on expanding discourse between faculty, students and the rest of the campus community.
Mike Dimpfl, a lecturing fellow at Duke University's Thompson Writing Program, spoke about the ongoing struggle for the rights of UNC housekeepers.
Dimpfl discussed how the University’s approach to things like grievance policies ensures continued control over working conditions and prevents staff from organizing to combat this.
“The time to file a grievance has gone from 30 to 15 days,” he said. “Think about what that means if there is only one person in this town that speaks your language, and that your language is entirely oral and you need to translate a legal document into a meaningful form and then re-translate it back into that legal document so that it will be recognized by North Carolina’s employment labor system.”
Angaza Laughinghouse, co-chairperson of the political action committee U.E. Local 150 of the N.C. Public Employees Service Workers Union, said class should not be the only concern of workers and organizers.
Laughinghouse said unions should fight for the rights of working people and they deserve to have their issues addressed, whether they are immigrants, African-Americans or LGBTQ people.
“Workers are the makers of history,” he said. “Wherever this nation decides to go from this moment on, it has to do with what side of history we choose to be on, what sort of initiative we are going to take. We can do this. We can turn this world right side up. We have moved forward in many ways. But there is still sexism and the patriarchy and we, as workers, need to take on these issues.”
Sophomore Tyler Spencer said he thought the event was productive and hopes it will result in increased direct action and community involvement.
“I’m interested in worker’s rights, especially involving students in organizing people at the University,” he said. “The conversation was productive, but probably more importantly, it brought together lots of different groups of students' unions and other organizers.”
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