Transport Workers Union to sue Columbia University over failure to protect workers during campus protests

Union president claims protesters held custodians 'hostage to their ideology' and demands names of arrested individuals and video footage.

Transport Workers Union to sue Columbia University over failure to protect workers during campus protests
The Free Press
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The Transport Workers Union, which represents over 150,000 workers in the transportation industry, including 725 at Columbia University, has announced its intention to sue the university for failing to protect its workers during recent pro-Hamas protests on campus.

John Samuelsen, the international president of the union, called the protesters' behavior "an outrageous affront to working people" and vowed to exploit "every legal means at our disposal" against both the university and the individual occupiers of the building, the Daily Wire reported.

In a letter addressed to Columbia University president Minouche Shafik, Samuelsen requested the names of the protesters arrested inside Hamilton Hall, video footage from the building, and the number of protesters involved as recorded by the NYPD. He alleged that at least one "smarmy, sanctimonious, elitist ... occupier" told custodians they could not leave the building because "this moment is bigger than you," forcing the workers to struggle to reach a barricaded exit and escape.

The situation escalated on April 30 when the NYPD confronted the activists at Columbia who had taken over Hamilton Hall. Officers deployed a heavily armored vehicle with a ladder to enter the building through an upstairs window. As he left the building around 12:40 a.m., a facility worker who had been inside yelled, "They held me hostage," according to Campus Reform.

The day before the police intervention, Columbia President Minouche Shafik acknowledged that the university had been unable to reach an agreement with the protesters to disband their encampment. She stated, "Regretfully, we were not able to come to an agreement," despite a small group of academic leaders engaging in "constructive dialogue" with student organizers to find a path forward that would result in the dismantling of the encampment and adherence to university policies.

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