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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Clarification about new contract for Deis workers

Published: September 23, 2005
Section: Opinions

To the Editor:
The misstatements, untruths and distortions in the Hoots September 9, 2005 editorial, Consequences of parity need consideration are too numerable to address in a single letter to the editor. Nonetheless, there were a few misrepresentations in the editorial that are too severe to stand uncorrected, namely: The new contract for Brandeis custodians signed last month was negotiated by Brandeis administrators and representative of SEIU Local 615. In accordance with the National Labor Relations Act, the Brandeis Labor Coalition was not involved in any way in these negotiations.
As such, any suggestion that the BLC was negotiating in place of custodians and their union is strange and patently false;

that this assertion was featured prominently in the editorial puts the journalistic seriousness of the editorials authors in serious question. Brandeis-employed custodians and custodians working at Brandeis for Hurley of America and SJD Inc. were not, as the editorial asserts, being compensated equally prior to the signing of the new contract. There are, indeed, modest differences in the health insurance premiums paid by the two groups of workers. However, the differences here result from different levels of coverage, not simply differing payments for the same coverage. It is nonsense to suggest that the inclusion of parity in the agreement will lead to increases in health care premiums or pay cuts for direct workers.
Although the editorial suggests that directly hiring all custodians would be a better goal, that is exactly what is happening as a result of the new contract. Brandeis cannot simply terminate its contracts with Hurley and SJD, so the outsourced workers will remain employed with those companies until August 2006. At that point, Brandeis will hire additiona workers–hopefully those currently being employed by Hurley and SJD–and will become the sole employer of custodians on campus.
Had the writers of Consequences of parity need consideration interviewed any of numerous people in the BLC, the Brandeis administration, the Brandeis faculty, SEIU Local 615 or campus custodians, they could have found out the above information. Moreover, they could have read articles in the Boston Globe, the Waltham Daily News Tribune, the Justice or even the very same edition of the Hoot and corrected their misperceptions. I am disappointed by this utter failure in journalistic inquiry and hope that the editors of the Hoot will address these problems in the future.
Dan Mauer 06