Hundreds of Howard University students and staff gathered around the Administration building Friday, Sept. 4, as they expressed their frustrations concerning the university’s lack of action regarding the simple amenities they need to be successful.
Union worker Jamie Contrereaz said "several grievances have been filed against Howard University for violating the workers rights under their Union contract."
What began as a small Union protest at the flagpole, migrated to the Administration building and meshed with a student protest in front of the A building. The crowd of students and workers said they had taken all that they can handle.
"We are all in this together. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired," said HUSA Vice President Jerome Joseph.
"I am out here because I am a freshman and I am still not validated," said freshman business management major Attallah Sheppard. "I have been out here on numerous occasions trying to get my paperwork completed."
Sheppard added, "As a freshman, you think that once you send in your paperwork at the end of senior year [in high school], everything should be good. Then you get here, on scholarship, and you are still not validated. It's discouraging."
Validation is one of many issues, but even students currently validated could be spotted in the mob.
"I came out to support the cause and I hope that administration takes this as a warning for next year," sophomore political science major Justin Frazier said.
"They cannot accept this many students next year. We don't have housing. We don't have desks. I understand Howard wants to be the best, but this is unacceptable..."
Kathy Howell, assistant district director of 32BJ SEIU, said, “We joined protest with the student body to show that together we stand, divided we fall.” Howell added that several grievances have been filed against Howard University, yet the administration has failed to act upon them.
Lucy Dow, who has been a custodian at Howard for more than thirteen years, stated that no proper equipment is provided for the workers and they are understaffed. Dow also stated that workers have yet to see a raise. “It should not take one to two years to get a pay increase,” Dow said.
Dow also said that most of the members are fearful of losing their jobs. “There are people who come to work not knowing if they will have a job. Some of these people have been working here for over twenty-seven years.” Dow said.
One member who has given Howard 27 years of service is Hattie Howard. “Members of the union were failed to be notified of a new contractor, UNNICO, that has brought in new employees, leaving us to worry about jobs,” Howard said. “We love Howard University, and it has taken a lot for us to put up with this treatment, now we are using our voice to get our demands not only heard but acted upon.”