Fairfield University maintenance workers demand union health care
FAIRFIELD — Despite the pouring rain, union maintenance workers of Fairfield University stood at the main gate demanding union health care early Tuesday morning.
The employees, who were joined by family and members of Local 30 — a chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers — held posters and chanted for the university to “do better” as cars passed by.
“It’s all about health care. We’re here for better care for our families,” said Pat Bike, a university plumber.
Though the rally coincided with the university’s June orientation only by coincidence, according to the protestors, they did not shy away from any additional attention to their movement.
They even brought with them a large inflatable — Scabby the rat — that has been associated with other pro-union movements.
“Scabby brings attention to our cause,” Bike said.
A few protestors also distributed leaflets, which asked for support in the face of rising health care costs.
The ultimate goal of the demonstration, as cited by many of the protestors there, was the opportunity to sit down and negotiate with university officials about union health care, which they felt would be cheaper and provide them with more benefits.
“All we’re asking for is what they took from us,” said Alex Sency, a university locksmith.
Though the workers do not plan to strike, Bike said that if they were not granted a meeting with university officials, they would continue to organize protests.
“We’ll be out here as much as we need to,” Bike said.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Fairfield officials said the university is “committed to providing a fair, safe and rewarding workplace for all of our employees and contractors.”
The university “does not comment on contract negotiations or ongoing personnel matters,” the release concluded.