Members of a local painters union feel that St. John’s University has brushed them off of summer jobs.
Union workers and representatives of District Council 9 (DC 9) rallied in front of the university’s Gate 1 on Thursday to ask that the school negotiate a contract to paint and prepare vacant dormitories during the summer for when students return in the fall semester. The university uses dozens of non-union workers to paint and prepare the dorms.
“We want everybody to have a fair chance,” said Jose Torrent, a representative from DC 9. “We have a lot of members that live in the area— some whose kids go here.”
Torrent said last year the school said they would give the union a contract, but they never got to negotiate. Union workers have been used in previous university projects, such as the renovation of Carnesecca Arena and the transformation of St. Louise de Marillac Hall cafeteria years ago, Torrent said.
According to a statement from St. John’s University, it accepted bids from union and non-union painting companies for the summer jobs to prepare the dorms and choose a “competitive” non-union offer.
“The university prides itself in giving fair consideration to outside companies (union and non-union) who contract with St. John’s for work-related projects at our New York campus locations,” the statement said. “In this instance, the university decided to accept competitive bids from non-union firms.”