We, the undersigned, are a group of Wesleyan alumni who are concerned about the unreasonable workloads faced by campus janitors, the majority of whom are black and brown migrants. We implore President Michael Roth to hire five new custodial staff and to drop all disciplinary charges against student protesters. This is a cause close to our hearts, as during our time at Wesleyan, all of us participated in labor rights organizing and/or ESL classes with campus janitors.

Solidarity among students, janitors, and other staff at Wesleyan has a long and proud tradition. In 1999, many of us helped organize rallies, petitions, and media coverage in support of janitors’ struggle for union recognition and a decent contract. This effort was led by the United Student/Labor Action Coalition (USLAC) in alliance with La Casa, Ajua Campos, Students Organized Against Racism, and Ujamaa. The campaign came to a head on April 4, 2000, when 24 students occupied the Admissions Building in a successful effort to pressure the university to create a code of conduct that would guarantee all campus workers a living wage and benefits.

At many points over the next two decades, Wesleyan janitors and other staff members joined forces with students to promote decent working conditions. For example, in September 2000, a group of students began organizing ESL classes for janitors, eventually negotiating for janitors to get paid time off to study and for student tutors to be paid through work study funding. In 2004, janitors and students successfully pressured the university to remove a manager accused of abusive practices. In 2006, janitors and students won the retraction of a dubious new method for resolving complaints in the workplace.  In 2013, janitors and students protested to demand smaller workloads and increased staff.

Recently, the University’s relationship to its janitorial employees is again called into question. The janitors have faced increasingly unreasonable workloads since 2012, when the workforce was reduced from 60 to 50 people over a two-year period, even as the student population and building sizes increased. This resulted in unreasonable workloads, injuries, and reduced public cleanliness. Moreover, since the staff cuts, many janitors no longer had time to take lunch breaks, let alone to attend ESL classes, leading to the termination of the ESL program after 15 years of successful operation.

Today, Wesleyan workers, students, faculty, and community members are continuing in the proud tradition of labor solidarity, organizing petitions, rallies, media coverage, and civil disobedience to demand reasonable workloads for janitors. We commend these activists for continuing to press for the jobs that our communities deserve, and we beseech President Roth to heed their call.



Jen Barkan ’02

Lisa Bergmann ’03

Olivia deBree ’01

Molly Dengler ’06

Alexandra Early ’07

Yuri Gottesman ’01

Katie Halper ’03

Simca Horwitz ’03

Adam Hurter ‘03

Jessica Karp Bansal ’03

Samantha Gillombardo Larson ‘03

Jesse Lava ’02

Sarah Leberstein ‘99

Alana López ‘03

Raven Maldonado-Brown ’04

Rigel S. Massaro ’03

Sarah Norr ’03

Raphael Pichardo ’04

Joely Pritzker ’07

Vorsean Robinson ’03

Manuel Rosaldo ’03

Suzy Sacher ’03

Carrie Schiff ’06

Tara Vajra Ramirez (formerly Tara Kelton) ’10

Emily Van Engel ’01

Rachel Wallis ’03

Karen Weingarten ’02

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