Dozens of students marched through the Cornell Store toward Day Hall Thursday, holding signs and chanting in support of workers’ rights to announce the creation of the Coalition Against Gulf Exploitation, which is composed of approximately 30 different campus organizations.
CAGE’s demands include an independent, third-party investigation of labor conditions at the Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar and granting Cornell workers in Qatar the right to unionize and collectively bargain, according to Allison Considine ’17, CAGE’s press liaison.
“We are the students … we want justice for our workers,” the students chanted as they marched.
The rally, which started at around 12:45 p.m., began with several students giving opening speeches that outlined their concerns over Cornell’s labor practices in Qatar. CAGE members then took a picture in front of McGraw Tower while holding a banner that read, “end exploitation of our workers in Qatar.”
After arriving at Day Hall, the coalition sent members inside to deliver a letter and a petition in support of CAGE’s demands to President Elizabeth Garrett. Hundreds of individuals had signed individual copies of the petition, which were then formed into a paper chain to be delivered to Garrett.
“As a student, I demand an independent investigation and swift remediation of our abuse of Cornell’s direct and subcontracted campus workers in Qatar,” the petition reads.
As Garrett was not in her office when the students arrived, CAGE members read the letter aloud to a member of the office staff instead.
“We cannot blindly accept assurance that workers employed at our campus are exempt from the abusive labor practices that might affect the migrant workers throughout that region,” the letter reads. “It is not enough to simply provide additional measures and benefits while disregarding the underlying issues at hand.”
The letter concluded with a list of all organizations signed on to the coalition, which ranges from the Cornell International Affairs Society to the Interfraternity Council.
“Students acting collectively is how these campaigns are won,” Considine said. “We’ve proven in the past that this works.”
Next semester the coalition aims to continue pressuring the administration to take action and respond to their demands, she added.