Wednesday, April 14, 2010
By Donna Smith | April 14, 2010
PHILADELPHIA – “Should I care if someone else is being exploited?” asked Kate Harkins, 21, of Schuylkill County, PA, who is a junior majoring in American Studies at Temple. “If we don’t stand up for those workers now, then down the road when we are workers, conditions will not be changed, and we will not be heard.”
As the bells on campus tolled just after noon on Wednesday, protesting students walked to Bell Tower Plaza along Polett Walk with T-shirts that read, “My nurse was a scab,” and they staged a die-in to protest worker exploitation. Students from Temple University’s Student Labor Action Project said they held the protest in support of the striking nurses and health professionals at Temple University Hospital just two subway stops up the Broad Street – Orange Line from the tree lined campus where they study.
Pennsylvania Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) have been on strike since March 31.
As the student-protesters staged their die-in, another student dressed in green scrubs walked through them waving a handful of cash to signify the huge amounts of money Temple is spending on strike-replacement workers – or scabs – and to show that the temporary workers’ priority is to make money and not necessarily provide the best of patient care.
The students also work with a local Jobs With Justice coalition and said they object to having their University spend public funds trying to break up the nurses’ union rather than bargain fairly. “We are their bread and butter. We pay our tuition, and they have to listen to us,” Harkins admonished the Temple administration outside Sullivan Hall as the protesters were closely watched by University police.
The students said they intend to continue their support of the striking Temple nurses and health professionals until the University treats them fairly and negotiates in good faith.