Peaceful protests have always been a way for like-minded people to come together, exercise their rights and fight for positive change in a non-violent fashion. After learning that ABM workers, known for their building maintenance and facility services, were hesitant to protest because they feared for their job security, students and faculty came together in their place to protest the unjust treatment of the custodial staff here at Fairfield University.
Fairfield community members of all ages gathered at the Stag statue with signs to showcase the unjust working conditions that the custodial staff faces from the corporation ABM.
Associate Professor of English Sonya Huber confirmed that that ABM workers are being pushed to work inhumane hours and have virtually no voice regarding their working conditions, including overnight shifts, job security and being forced to work beyond their ability.
Junior Sean Tomlinson, who is heavily involved in Fairfield Students for Workers’ Rights, organized the protest and spread the word through various forms of social media. Attendees included some of the students in Tomlinson’s McCormick residential college, Fairfield community members and staff who had become aware of the situation.
Tomlinson expressed that her main goal for the protest was to create, “long-lasting, positive and sustainable change for ABM workers,” by bringing members of the Fairfield community together to become more involved in custodial affairs.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that injustices toward ABM workers have been exposed here at Fairfield. Huber confirmed that approximately two years ago, ABM attempted to have their workers take an overnight shift on top of already excessive hours. After being deemed inhumane, this request was repealed by ABM.
Success in the past provided the protestors with hope that their event may bring some positive change to the working conditions of those on the custodial staff. “These workers are in a very vulnerable situation at the moment, we are coming together this evening to stand in as their voice,” said Huber.
The majority of students at the event credited Tomlinson for informing them about the issues regarding the custodial staff. “The theme for [the] McCormick residential college this year is social justice, we came out tonight to personally act on an issue that can only be described as social injustice,” said Claire Mulligan ‘20.
Attendees at the protest went beyond just Fairfield students and staff. “I’m here because I want to see them [ABM workers] get the respect they deserve. It’s not right that they are mistreated like this,” said Shayla Leary, a Fairfield community member.
With their past success under their belts, students and staff left the protest with the feeling that they had done their part to make a change in custodial rights. Tomlinson stressed that even though the protest was over, she would continue to spread the word about ABM’s injustice through both word of mouth and her social media presence.