[Marxism] please support workers on our campus

ertugrul ahmet tonak eatonak at simons-rock.edu
Fri Apr 16 15:39:46 MDT 2004

Dear List Members,

I am writing to you as a spokesperson of the Simon's Rock College of 
Bard-Student Labor Alliance.  As you will see in the following flyer and 
  on our web site [www.simons-rock.edu/~eatonak/labor] that we are in 
the midst of resolving a very disconcerting unfair labor practice.  As 
of today, no one (i.e. the general contractor Mullaney, the 
sub-contractor MetroNational, and Simon's Rock College of Bard 
administration) is taking any responsibility for paying more than 
$25,000 of unpaid wages for the 7 construction workers who worked very 
hard to build a new $16 million performance center on our campus.

Our Faculty Senate overwhelmingly passed the following motion to 
facilitate the resolution of this issue on March 24, 2004.  So far, 
there is no response from the administration:

"We strongly urge the administration of Simon's Rock to use its leverage 
with Mullaney Construction Co. - especially in light of the contract for 
building the new Student Union - to ensure that the dispute concerning 
workers' unpaid wages in the construction of the Performing Arts Center 
be resolved."

We ask your support by lending your name to publicize in our events.  If 
you support our efforts, send a blank email reply with your email 
address (please do not change the "subject").  If you do not want us to 
use your affiliation or there is a change in it please indicate that.

Thank you very much for your forthcoming support.

Ahmet Tonak

P.S. You may circulate this in other lists.

One of our recent flyers:


As we all know, the inauguration of the new performing arts center will 
be celebrated by a series of events this May, including a gala dinner 
and concert for which tickets are being sold at $5,000 - $10,000 per table.

As we all also know, this new building was built by unjustly exploited 
laborers (part of the story was covered in the Berkshire Eagle, October 
8-10, 2003). Moreover, the following workers, who often worked 70-hour 
weeks to complete the building on schedule, are still owed $25,693 in 
unpaid wages:

1) T. Brownlow (Crew Leader)
2) M. Stevens
3) B. Miller
4) R. Leach
5) B. O'Dell
6) G. Leach
7) S. Carey

While there is no dispute that these wages are unpaid, none of the 
parties involved is willing to take the responsibility for them. We 
believe that Simon's Rock College has the ethical - if not legal - 
responsibility to ensure that these individuals are paid for their work 
in constructing our performing arts center. The financial costs are 
relatively small; in contrast, the ethical costs of inaction are large.

Both Mullaney Corporation, the general contractor, and the Simon's Rock 
administration admit that these are unpaid wages. They argue, however, 
that they are not responsible for paying these wages because the workers 
were hired through a subcontractor, Metronational. It is Metronational, 
therefore, that is responsible for paying these wages, they say.

But both the administration and Mullaney already recognize that 
Metronational engages in unfair business practices: Mullaney has 
described them as "awful, they're skimming" and Simon's Rock's John 
Verones described Metronational's practices as "disconcerting ... not 

In light of this, merely asserting that Metronational is responsible for 
these unpaid wages or suggesting that these workers should take their 
case to Metronational, is an irresponsible stance. The building belongs 
to Simon's Rock, and it is Simon's Rock's contractor Mullaney which 
brought Metronational to our campus. Therefore, they should share the 
responsibility of securing funds to cover unpaid wages of these workers.

Anyone interested in learning more about these issues and would like to 
become involved in correcting this situation should visit our web site: 

Concerned Faculty and Students for Fair Labor Contact: Ahmet Tonak -- 
eatonak at simons-rock.edu


I was recently asked whether universities should teach
values.  My response was that universities, whether
implicitly or otherwise, always, always teach values.
They teach values in the way they hire and treat employees.

Ruth Simmons
President, Brown University

E. Ahmet Tonak
Simon’s Rock College of Bard
Great Barrington, MA 01230

Phone:  413-528 7488
Fax:    413-528 7365
Cell:   413-329 7856

Homepage: www.simons-rock.edu/~eatonak

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