Members of Temple Student Labor Action Project met with officials from Temple University and AlliedBarton for the first time Thursday, signaling the biggest point of progress for labor groups since they began advocating for AlliedBarton guards on Temple’s campus three years ago.
AlliedBarton told SLAP they would provide a decision in two weeks on whether they would take action to ensure their workers are given five paid sick days – the chief complaint lodged by SLAP and its parent organization Jobs With Justice.
Given the litany of accusations SLAP has placed upon AlliedBarton in the past, perhaps the most striking feature of the meeting was its diplomacy.
“Both the administration and the company were receptive to what we had to say,” said Thomas Robinson, a junior social work major at Temple and AlliedBarton employee who has become one of the more public advocates among the company’s employees.
“They could have sent a bunch of nobodies, but both sides sent influential people,” he said.
The meeting was organized by Daniel Polett, chair of the Board of Trustees, who met with SLAP members after a Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 9 – one week after Temple told SLAP they would not intervene in any way in the dispute.
Polett could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday.
“We’ve been out there been on [AlliedBarton] and been in the press, and it really doesn’t do well for the school or AlliedBarton to have that kind of press,” said Kevin Paris, a member of SLAP. “It kind of remains to be seen whether or not they are acting on it or just trying to stall.”
Ronald Rabena, divisional president for AlliedBarton, and James Gorman, the company’s vice president and general manger, could not be reached for comment. Larry Rubin, a company spokesman, said AlliedBarton is now involved in “ongoing discussions” with Temple and called the meeting “very productive.”
SLAP and JWJ hope that Temple will follow the example set by the University of Pennsylvania, which convinced AlliedBarton to provide those who work on its campus three paid sick days after the outcry from students and labor groups.
Temple asserted its neutrality in the issue in early October after it opened the possibility of becoming involved.
When asked why the university changed its position, Senior Vice President and University Counsel George Moore, who was present at Thursday’s meeting, said nothing has changed to the best of his knowledge.
Andrew Thompson can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.