Lunt Cafe during its re-opening. Lunt is closed for the remainder of the semester. Photo courtesy of Kate Silber ’20.
On November 3rd, 2017, Lunt Cafe was closed for a second and final time for the semester, signalling development in the failure of communication between Lunt Cafe staff, the administration, and Student’s Council.
Between the first closure and reopening of Lunt in October, staff members of Lunt Cafe were unclear on the status of their employment and on the sudden price changes to the menu. The HC-All email that reopened Lunt (sent on October 23rd) after the first closure “was the first time we heard we were opening back up,” Sydney Dorman ’19, a Lunt staff member, said in an interview (Note: An October 5th email articulated that “Once break ends, [Lunt Cafe] will re-open and function as usual.”) The Cafe could not reopen, as no shifts were scheduled and no food was ordered.
“When the Cafe was closed down for the rest of the semester, Lunt workers received an email, at max an hour before the HC-All came out to everyone,” Dorman said.
The closure has since been the subject of two meetings of Student’s Council, concerned primarily with creating an after-hours source of food for students on campus. Students who worked in Lunt have not yet been provided with alternative jobs. Student’s Council initially offered $7 an hour compensation to Lunt staff, who rejected the amount as unfair.
“Because the Lunt managers raised wages to $15 per hour in the beginning of the semester without telling [Student’s Council], the Treasurers are averaging out the [$15 an hour] we were receiving before Lunt closed with [$7 an hour] so that we’d be at an average of [$10 hour] for the semester,” Dorman said via email.
The compromise had implications, however, for Lunt Staff members who rely on Lunt as a primary source of income. Lunt staff planned a sit-in in the Dean’s Office in protest for Wednesday, November 29th, but were granted their request before the protest. Lunt staff will now be paid with the remaining Lunt Cafe budget by the managers.
Poster from the planned sit-in by Lunt Workers.
“Lunt staff still hasn’t been compensated in any way and no other forms of work were offered,” Dorman said via email, before Lunt workers learned they would be fully compensated. “We’ve been expecting [$10 an hour] in compensation. We’ve planned our lives for the next few months around an expected amount that now will be cut [by] 30%.”
Students Council Co-Treasurer Saif Kureishi ’20 expressed concern with the “disconnect” between Lunt staff and Student’s Council stemming from early issues in the budgeting process. After allotting $15,000 dollars to Lunt for wages, Kureishi and Co-Treasurer Cesar Meric ’20 learned Lunt was “working under the promise of 15 dollars and hour.”
“About a month and a half into the semester, we started receiving time-sheets from the Lunt staff,” Kureishi said. “All the sheets said ten dollars an hour, but that was crossed out, and in blue pen was written 15 (dollars an hour).” “What we had found out was they had raised their wages to 15 dollars an hour without telling us.”
Kureishi also said that final time-sheets required to pay Lunt workers after the closure were not received until November 15th. There were errors in the time-sheets that placed Lunt $10,000 over their final budget, which further delayed the process of payment and reimbursement.
“The communication between Student’s Council and Lunt has been very confusing,” Kureishi said. “A lot of Lunt workers are expressing their discontent because they feel out of the loop. We need to be more open.”
In the coming weeks, The Clerk will explore the theme of transparency and the history of communication between Lunt Cafe, Student’s Council, and the administration, along with the implications of Lunt’s closure on its workers.
Why would Lunt workers possibly earn ~50% more per hour than DC workers? In what world does that make sense? If it’s the timing of the work (late night), that argument doesn’t hold up because there is a huge surplus of people who already *want* to work at Lunt, and they have to reject the vast majority of applicants. Increased wages for student workers is a grand thing, but I can’t fathom what the point of increasing the wages for an already highly sought after job (whose hiring process is run by students), rather than focusing first on the standard jobs on campus such as working at the DC or Coop (which, in my experience, tend to skew more towards those from less affluent backgrounds, but I’d be curious to see any information on that).