If you’ve noticed any Vassar staff members dressed in red on Thursdays—it’s not just a fashion statement. Many Vassar staff are part of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union. For them, the wearing of red is an act of remembrance and solidarity.
In Westchester in 1989, telecommunications worker Gerry Horgan was struck by a vehicle while on a strike picket line. He later died of head and neck injuries sustained during the incident. The driver was a manager’s teenage daughter acting as a “scab” (strike-breaker or non-union replacement worker). This occurred just under thirty-two years ago and less than fifty-two miles from campus.
As the CWA 1120 local unit representing workers here at Vassar begins negotiations for their next contract, reflecting on the last three decades of progress is a bittersweet reminder of how far we’ve come and the work still yet to be done to ensure safety, fairness, and dignity for all. In the years since Horgan’s death, the practice of wearing red one day a week has not only been nationally adopted by CWA, but other unions as well. Some cheekily note it as “On Wednesdays We Wear Red,” a nod to the cult-classic “Mean Girls.” But, unlike in the movie, you are more than welcome to sit with us.