Daycon Convicted By Federal Judges, But May Appeal

From The Diamondback:

Students who have protested against a university contractor’s labor relations are claiming victory after the firm was forced to reinstate 55 employees it fired when they went on strike in April.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Daycon, which supplies janitorial equipment and chemicals, violated federal labor laws, and the striking workers — who are also set to receive seven months of back pay — are once again making deliveries to the university.

Over those 10 months, Feminism Without Borders and College Park Students for a Democratic Society members organized a series of demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns calling for the university to drop its contract with Daycon if it did not rehire the strikers.

SDS member Dennis Frostbutter broke the news to fellow activists after he spoke to a Daycon truck driver in front of Stamp Student Union on Friday.

“He said that made his day, when I asked him if he was unionized,” Frostbutter said of the driver. “He told me to tell the students that the workers are back at work and they’re back on their campus. It’s just really amazing.”

But the dispute may not be over yet. While the strikers have resumed work for now, Daycon’s lawyers told The Washington Post they planned to appeal the ruling. Daycon representatives did not return calls for comment.

Mary Yanik, president of Feminism Without Borders, said members are very concerned about the possibility of an appeal, which may prolong the conflict with the strikers for months or even years. Yanik said she hopes the university administration will pressure Daycon to abide by the ruling.

“As students, I think Daycon appealing the decision would be a declaration of war on the campus,” she said. “That would be refusing to obey the law and ignoring the cries of the students, and they’ve received letters from our president, so they know our university is really concerned about this. So we will certainly put pressure to cut the contract if they appeal.”

In December, university President Wallace Loh sent letters to the presidents of Daycon and the union urging them to reach “a speedy and just resolution” to the dispute and informing them that the administration was awaiting a decision from the National Labor Relations Board on the case.

University Procurement and Supply Director James Stirling wrote in an e-mail that his office is consulting legal counsel before making any decision on the contract, and Loh said in an interview Friday that officials would be weighing many factors in considering whether to maintain relations with Daycon.

“The university is always committed to conducting business in a socially responsible matter,” Loh said, adding, “I think the voices of the students is very important, but that’s not the only factor.”

Loh also noted the university had its reasons for hiring Daycon.

“Maybe their service was better or their prices were better,” he said. “Whether or not the contract is renewed will take into account all of these issues. How they’ve treated their employees — we’d look into all of that and then make a decision.”

Student activists said they were hopeful Daycon would obey the ruling and not force the administration to terminate their contract.

“If all the universities and businesses just cut their contracts with Daycon, long term it would put the workers out of work, and that would just defeat the purpose of what we’ve been doing,” Frostbutter said. “We have to allow [Daycon] to make the right decisions so the workers can continue to work.”

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