Outraged over what they allege is illegal behavior by a linen company that has a contract with Yale, about one dozen students entered the office of an Athletics Department administrator on Tuesday to protest what they call his unwillingness to hold the company accountable for its mistreatment of workers.
The protesters — mainly members of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee — said they had spoken several times with Forrest Temple, the senior associate director of finance, facilities and administration, regarding their concerns about the management of the New England Linen Supply. But he recently backed away from his initial openness to contacting the company, they said.
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Phoebe Rounds ’07, who helped to lead the protest, said she does not want Yale to revoke its contract with the company. She would like Temple to call the company, however, to ensure that it will allow workers the choice to unionize and gather information about the company leaders’ recent conduct. Rounds said the company has violated federal law by intimidating and spying on its pro-union employees.
“We’re going to start talking to patrons at Yale Athletics about what’s going on at New England Linen until Mr. Temple makes the call over to [them],” she said. “They’ve had more than enough time to consider the issue. All we’re asking for is sort of an information-gathering phone call.”
But Director of Sports Publicity Steve Conn said Tuesday night that the issue did not merit significant attention from the Athletics Department because its contract with the company constitutes less than 1 percent of the department’s overall business.
“We’re talking about a miniscule amount of business with Athletics,” he said. “These are not the kinds of issues that the Athletics Department comments on.”
In addition to the right to unionize, workers at New England Linen Supply have also demanded better worker conditions, health insurance and wages. Administrators at Columbia University, which also has a contract with the company, recently called the company in the face of student pressure.