Georgetown Values: A Just Employment Policy
With its Catholic and Jesuit roots, Georgetown affirms a commitment to a number of different values. These include ‘Contemplation in Action,’ ‘Diversity,’ ‘Cura Personalis’—that is, care for the whole person—‘Excellence,’ ‘Respect,’ ‘Value of the Common Good,’ and ‘Social Justice.’
These values are meant to inform everything that Georgetown does and promotes as an institution. In terms of its relationship to labor, Georgetown has adopted its ‘Just Employment Policy,’ which dictates that Georgetown “is committed to providing fair and competitive compensation packages for University employees and full-time contract workers who provide services on its campuses in Washington, D.C.”
This policy also dictates the University’s position towards the unionization efforts on campus:
“This policy affirms Georgetown's commitment that everyone in the Georgetown community has a right to a safe and harassment-free environment, that all working members have the right to freely associate and organize, and that the University will respect the rights of employees to vote for or against union representation without intimidation, unjust pressure, undue delay or hindrance in accordance with applicable law.”
Over the past 12 years, Georgetown University has emphasized, publicly celebrated, and advocated that other institutions adopt their Just Employment Policy. Vice President of Public Affairs, Erik Smulson affirmed that he and the Georgetown administration view adhering to this policy to be a non-optional matter of justice: “The Just Employment Policy is really a commitment from the university to social justice and for the common good. It is very true to who we are as a university and the respect we have for the dignity of all humans and those in the workplace.”
Given Georgetown’s public and long-term commitment to it, we believe and hope that this policy means that the university administration will adhere to its Catholic and Jesuit values, remain neutral, not interfere with our organizing efforts, voluntarily recognize the will of the majority of graduate employees, and refrain from any retaliation towards graduate workers.
We realize that history is replete with examples of what Father Joel S. Panzer has called “a chasm between teaching and practice.” In his book, The Popes and Slavery, Panzer acknowledges Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum and John Paul II’s Centesimus annus--two encyclicals written a century apart affirming the right of workers to organize trade unions. “Yet Catholic hospitals, schools, and other institutions,” Panzer laments, “have been among the most hesitant to permit their establishment” (p. 10).
With graduate workers at the University of Loyola Chicago already unionized and workers at Boston College moving forward, we believe and hope that the Georgetown University administration will continue to lead the Jesuit community by example.