Princeton students and employees at the May 9 gathering
Francesca Billington ’19

About 80 students and Princeton employees gathered outside Frist Campus Center May 9, encouraging workers to share their grievances about wages and job security in advance of upcoming contract negotiations with the University’s largest union.

The gathering came a year after the Princeton Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) organized a protest during Princeton Preview — a response to a March 2017 snowstorm in which workers expressed overtime-pay concerns and said they were not given adequate accommodations the night they slept over on campus. The University said it had acted in accordance with the union contract.

The event “provides us only a momentary glimpse” into the experiences of campus workers, said YDS member Braden Flax ’21. Many employees did not attend or declined to speak out of fear of retaliation, students said.

Thomas Parker, president of Local 175 of the Services Employees International Union, praised the students for their support. “You don’t know how inspiring it is for the staff to hear your concerns and considerations, and the opportunity to talk to you,” he said. The union’s current contract runs through July 1.

One Campus Dining worker urged students and her colleagues to speak up: “The reason why the students are here is the reason why we are here. Don’t be intimidated by what other people say or by what management says. In order to get what you want, you need to voice your opinion. We have a big group of students who have our back, like we have their backs. So everybody needs to learn how to start speaking up.”