Click for full selection. Archival materials drawn from UNC University Records: Office of the Chancellor, James Moeser Records, 1940s-2008, Box 49, Folder 1878.

In the spring of 2005, the firing of a pro-union dining services employee named Vel Dowdy provoked protest from a number of student groups on campus. UNC Student Action with Workers, the most vocal of these groups, petitioned the Office of the Chancellor to reinstate Ms. Dowdy and issue a statement of support for a card-check neutrality process for unionization. Finding little traction with the administration (an internal review concluded that the university was not responsible for worker complaints against food services provider Aramark), the students turned to other means, including staging public protests and reaching out to larger organizations such as the NAACP. However, not all university students supported these efforts, and some of the anti-union students were as persistent as the unionists in their efforts to stymie labor organization on campus. Chris Cameron is one student whose name appears frequently in the archives; he emailed administration members with his objections to unionization and forwarded to the chancellor’s office a student plan to raise awareness by targeting tour groups. Cameron’s emails show one of the greatest impediments to official university support of food worker unionization—resistance from students themselves.

Additional sources:

Letter from Student Action with Workers to the Office of the Chancellor stating demands and refusing a proposed meeting, and the Chancellor’s response to said letter (April 11, 2005)

SAWA’s response to that letter, including anti-union memo distributed by Aramark to dining services employees (April 12, 2005; memo dated February 18, 2005)

Summary of a meeting between student activists, administration representatives, and Aramark employees, listing concerns with Aramark’s treatment of workers (April 21, 2005)

University review concluding that Aramark was complying with the terms of its contract with the university (May 27, 2005)

Memo from Asst. Dean Dave Gilbert describing a student protest in Lenoir (April 29, 2005)

Letter from Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP President Fred Gilbert to Chancellor Moeser regarding potential rights violations carried out by Aramark, and the Chancellor’s response (April 15-27, 2005)

—Eli Hardwig