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‘Scabby, The Union Rat’ Should Be a Wake-Up Call

Scabby+The+Union+Rat%2C+seen+here%2C+should+remind+us+of+the+importance+of+labor+unions.
Natalie Zickel/Villanovan Photography
‘Scabby’ The Union Rat, seen here, should remind us of the importance of labor unions.

“Scabby, The Union Rat” has been a campus staple for the last few weeks, with its appearance outside Jake Nevin almost every day. Scabby is designed to call very obvious attention to companies employing nonunion labor, something Villanova recently did with the roofing project atop Jake Nevin Field House. 

A trade union is a collective of workers standing together to ensure standard wages and benefits. In lower middle-class areas of our country, unions have provided security and community to millions of people, serving as the backbone of the middle-class in America for decades.

Trade unions exemplify the spirit of “Unitas.” Unitas (unity) is one of Villanova’s three core tenets. Knowing this, one would be inclined to believe that promoting worker unity and collective bargaining would align with Villanova’s priorities. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The choice to hire a nonunion company appears to fly in the face of everything the University stands for. 

Villanova released a statement explaining the rationale behind hiring a nonunion company.

“Villanova has a fiduciary responsibility to prudently manage our financial resources and make decisions that are in the best interest of the University and the people it serves,” the University said. 

While limiting spending makes sense (the University is a business, after all), Villanova has made some major purchases recently, namely the acquisition of nearby Cabrini University. 

This dichotomy is interesting: we are spending seemingly millions of dollars on land three miles away but not spending money to promote core values at home? 

This seeming hypocrisy wouldn’t be so exasperating if the core values were simply a tagline nobody took seriously (for example: “America Runs on Dunkin”). But everyone I have met at Villanova takes these three core values very seriously. 

While going through freshman orientation this year, I heard “Veritas, Unitas, Caritas” more times than I could count, and I see them expressed every day. I have seen how students at this school support each other in so many different ways. 

I have seen more green bandanas than I can count, and all my friends applied to Blue Key. We have the largest student-run Special Olympics event in the world, and I’ve seen a million flyers for NOVAdance, which raises essential funds for the families of children with cancer. We are an active, UNITED community. Unitas is alive and well with the student body of Villanova. 

That makes it all the more frustrating when the administration makes decisions (seemingly) against their “beliefs” in the interest of saving money. 

Unions have been declining in size and power for years, leading to lower wages and a decreased labor share of income. Income inequality is also reduced in areas with a substantial union presence, according to whitehouse.gov. 

Supporting labor unions not only goes along with the University’s belief in unity, but also helps to strengthen the surrounding community. Not supporting unions, in line with the administration’s current behavior, also implicates the University in increasing the wealth gap.

From all indications, Villanova University is an accepting, friendly and caring community. Anyone who has been to a basketball game in the Finn or simply walked through campus can feel how this community exemplifies our three core values. 

That being said, Villanova must reflect its values in every aspect of its operation. Our values are not just for the 7,087 undergraduates who call Villanova home. They are for every dining hall worker, custodian, professor and, yes, roofer. 

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  • J

    Just An’AlumSep 30, 2023 at 9:42 am

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Unions that harm their workers by making their services non-competitive aren’t providing a benefit. In order for Unions to actually be a net benefit to the entire economy, they have to be subject to market reality.

    The kids on campus need to take a few economics lessons, grow up, and realize that the university needs to make sound financial decisions or it will end up like Cabrini and hundreds of other schools that have closed or will be closing their doors in the coming years.

    Reply
  • T

    Taleen PostianSep 27, 2023 at 6:12 pm

    Much needed article. Glad students are aware of the protests and are analyzing the actions of the university against its declared values.

    Reply
  • T

    Thomas MorrisonSep 21, 2023 at 7:32 am

    Outstanding article – well thought out and written. I look forward to more articles by this writer! I am… Union Proud as well.

    Reply
  • J

    John KaneSep 20, 2023 at 9:29 pm

    Villanova should be ashamed of them selves they do this time and time again. With the just recently built Dorms on route 30 for example. Another job bragging about using non-union plumbing contractor. Unions members can afford to send their children to this prestigious school. I assure you not one non union tradesmen could afford the tuition. Villanova endowment alone could purchase Cabrini but let’s not go there. Shhh that’s for another day. Face it Villanova, you run a greedy organization and look down on the backbone of our country. Blue collar union workers. By American , Build Union.
    John Kane retired Union member and damn proud of it.

    Reply
  • J

    Joseph MulhollandSep 20, 2023 at 5:37 pm

    Forget about ideals Nova only cares about the bottom line. The current administration is a penny pinching disgrace, not interested in the common good of the workers.They should be compelled to find out who these workers are,how much they are paid, and how much goes toward their pensions and health benefits.

    Reply