Mailroom Workers’ Fight for Demands Continues with Poster Action
This morning, mailroom supervisors came into a workplace covered in posters demanding immediate action on demands put forth by mailroom workers last month. Mailroom workers took action to reiterate their demands after the College opened an investigation into the hostile work environment in the mailroom. The posters include messages demanding fair wages, saying that workers feel unsafe at work, and emphasizing that an investigation into their supervisors is inadequate without meeting all of their demands.
The College opened a Title IX investigation into supervisors Kim Hegg and Payton Ronfeldt following multiple large-scale actions by mailroom workers in October. While that investigation is ongoing, Hegg and Ronfeldt have been temporarily removed from the mailroom. However, 8 of the workers’ 9 demands have not been met, and workers remain vulnerable in the absence of structural change in their workplace. Mailroom workers demanded equal pay and a wage increase, just cause employment and the ability to control their own schedules. None of the aforementioned demands have been addressed by either Hegg and Ronfeldt or their new, temporary supervisors.
The removal of Hegg and Ronfeldt has not changed the structure of the mailroom that allowed toxic workplace practices, including racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and ableism, to persist. Without just-cause employment, workers feel uncomfortable addressing these issues with their supervisors directly without the risk of facing retaliation in the form of firing. Through organizing for their demands, workers aim to establish an environment where their basic rights are respected, while also reminding their bosses of the power they hold as workers.
The presence of the new supervisors has made it obvious that Hegg and Ronfeldt created a toxic work environment. Mailroom workers have noticed that, in Hegg and Ronfeldt’s absence, the workplace feels more comfortable, decreasing a major source of stress for many workers.
Still, many of the issues addressed by the demands persist with the new supervisors. Multiple workers noted that they continued to be misgendered by their supervisors, even after name tags with pronouns were provided to all mailroom staff on Monday, Oct. 25. Additionally, mailroom workers noted that the new supervisors are unfamiliar with the workings of the mailroom, which has created new responsibilities for student workers. Student workers have realized that they have the ability to run the mailroom without the help of supervisors, underscoring the necessity for more student worker agency in selecting shift leads and in scheduling shifts.
Mailroom workers have clearly asserted that workers need to have power in their own workplaces, and have demonstrated that collective organizing is the only way to take that power. Following the rally and letter-writing actions leading up to fall break, workers forced the College to address the current conditions in the mailroom, even if the ongoing investigation will not deliver workers’ demands. Mailroom workers are committed to keep fighting until all demands are met by the College and their supervisors.