Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
After months of negotiation, SLAP and the Swarthmore College administration have reached a compromise on the issue of unionized labor for the controversial Town Center West project.
The Board of Managers finally met SLAP’s demands for a neutrality agreement with an offer to cut costs by employing children.
“We realized that this inn project simply could not happen without SLAP’s support, especially now that they have so much support from Pub Nite-goers,” said President Rachel Chomp. “To that end, we reached a compromise. SLAP will be able to hand-pick a union for the hotel workers. However, to cut costs, we will only employ children between the ages of 8 and 14.”
These children will work a variety of service sector and administrative support jobs, ranging from secretarial positions to housekeeping.
The college plans to avoid child labor laws by claiming a special exemption for the Town Center West project, leading some critics to worry that within the borough of Swarthmore, the college will have a monopoly on children as a source of labor.
The administration stressed that the inn project, at heart, is a moneymaking enterprise.
After the numbers were crunched, the Board of Managers determined that the only way Town Center West could both make a profit and comply with SLAP’s demands was to employ alternative sources of labor.
“Because these children’s incomes will be supplemented by that of their parents, there will be no need to pay them a living wage,” said Chomp. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to throw our endowment in the pool and swim in it, like Scrooge McDuck.”
SLAP was pleased with this outcome.
“As long as the inn workers have the power to collectively bargain, we’ve accomplished our goals. We couldn’t care less about who these workers actually are,” said SLAP member Amy Cooper ‘13.
“We’ve done a lot of screaming, but there comes a point where you need to buckle down and sell out.”
Student organizer Jon McFarling ‘12 was even more optimistic. “This is a phenomenal success for college activism,” he said.
“It’s almost as good as the time student activists convinced the college to switch from one evil multinational soft-drink corporation to another evil multinational soft-drink corporation – the administration complied with every one of SLAP’s demands!”
Child labor on campus began as a pilot program earlier this semester, when Sharples began employing unionized 6th graders.