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Northwestern students, faculty rally in support of campus service workers who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus

About 320 workers, most working in dining halls and in hospitality, lost their jobs in mid-March when Northwestern University shut down.

A few dozen Northwestern University staff march through Evanston demanding Northwestern University compensate them for wages they lost while the campus was closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, Wednesday, June 10, 2020.
Northwestern University staff want the school to compensate them for wages they lost while the campus was closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Northwestern University students and faculty rallied Wednesday in support of low-wage service workers who were laid off due to the coronavirus-related campus shutdown.

About 320 workers — most working in dining halls and in hospitality — lost their jobs in mid-March when Northwestern shut down and learning went online, rally organizers said. The workers earn an average of about $15 an hour.

The activists are calling for the workers to be compensated for the wages they’ve lost while campus has been on shutdown. They contend other universities, including the University of Chicago, have continued to pay subcontracted workers during the pandemic.

“Because of the low wages at this job, I didn’t have savings built up. After a few weeks of being laid off, I wasn’t even able to afford food,” Melvin Davis, a campus delivery driver, said in a statement. “I started getting food from a food pantry.”

The workers were employed by a Northwestern subcontractor, Compass Group.

Northwestern University staff march through Evanston demanding the school compensate them for wages they lost while the campus was closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Northwestern University staff march through Evanston demanding the school compensate them for wages they lost while the campus was closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times