Brown, Union Move Closer To Agreement
Striking Brown University dining hall and maintenance workers moved a step closer to an agreement in their 100-day-old contract dispute with the Brown administration when the workers agreed last night to discuss a new administration wage proposal.
The workers, however, voted to demand that the Brown administration grant a "blanket amnesty" to all 11 students arrested for blocking a delivery truck during a pro-strike demonstration near the university's main dining hall Thursday.
The students, who were released on their own recognizance following their arrest, face up to a year in jail and fines of $500, as well as internal disciplinary action from the Brown administration.
At noon yesterday, approximately 300 pro-strike students demonstrated outside Brown's University Hall while a meeting of the Brown Corporation was being held inside.
Forty of the students entered the building during the meeting. They had earlier vowed not to leave until their demands for the end of the strike had been heard by corporation members, but left voluntarily late in the afternoon.
A group of about 20--including many of those arrested Thursday--did meet with administration officials in the building during the afternoon, but one of the students later reported that the meeting produced no new developments.
A New Wage Offer
The Brown administration made its latest wage proposal yesterday, following a round of negotiations with the workers in the presence of a federal mediator.
The workers will hold a general strike meeting Tuesday night to discuss the new wage offer.
The workers, most of whom are members of Local 134 of the Service Employees International Union, have been seeking a 30-cent per hour pay increase The university's current wage proposal is reportedly a 25-cent per hour pay boost.
Union officials could not be reached for comment on the new wage proposal last night. However, members of "Students in a Vise," an ad hoc student group supporting the workers, said last night that a vote on the proposal could come as soon as the end of next week.
The latest proposal apparently does not cover workers in the Brown libraries, who are engaged in separate deadlocked talks.
It was not clear whether the latest administration wage offer would be extended to the library workers as well.
A group of Brown student government representatives yesterday released a statement condemning the administration's decision to call in the police on Thursday as "nothing less than grossly reprehensible."
The arrests mark "a low point for Brown University. That something so deplorable as this should occur is but a further example of the extent to which the Brown administration has degenerated in its dealings with both students and striking employees," the statement said.
The university sent letters yesterday to each of the arrested students informing them of their rights under the university's internal punitive hearing system.
Thomas Bechtel, the dean of undergraduate counseling at Brown, who authorized the arrests, said Thursday that the university administration classified the students' actions as a serious offense," which leaves two options available to the students.
David Couch, one of the arrested students, said yesterday he thinks the 11 will choose a hearing before an appointed board of Brown faculty members and students.
The second option open to the students is a hearing before a dean of the university's choice. That dean, Bechtel said, could be him