The staff at Bates College staff made headlines recently with their efforts to unionize. With that unionization effort has come a sharp backlash from the Bates administration. Workers recently filed a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) about Bates’s union-busting practices in response to a selectively applied non-solicitation clause in the employee contract.
In recognition of the brave effort by the staff at Bates College, the United Student Labor Action Coalition (USLAC) and Physical Plant workers at Wesleyan University have been showing support. “We stand in solidarity with the Bates workers fighting to amplify their voices in the workplace,” USLAC, a student collective dedicated to supporting workers on campus, said in a statement. “We also strongly condemn the Bates Administration’s efforts to suppress these very voices. Unions are the strength of the modern-day labor force, and an attempt to unionize is not only a material win for the workers but also a moral win in the furthering of the workplace towards a more democratic model.”
“As Local 153 members employed at Wesleyan University, we celebrate and stand in solidarity with your efforts to unite your voices, fight for justice, and secure better working conditions at Bates,” said the group of workers employed at the Middletown, Ct. college’s Physical Plant. “We believe that a union is the best tool that an employee has to make sure that their complaints are acted upon. Our union has allowed us to speak with one voice as we have demanded fair wages, increased benefits, and safer conditions. We urge you to stand strong in the face of pressure from the Bates administration and know that workers on college campuses across the country are not only rooting for your success but are also being inspired by your leadership, as they join the fight for justice as well.”
The Local 153 members at the Wesleyan Physical Plant explained in their letter that was published in the Wesleyan Argus newsletter the great things they have gained through their union membership. They concluded their message by saying, “Forming the Physical Plant union at Wesleyan has never harmed our relationships with our supervisors. In fact, unionizing has only made it easier for us to have collaborative, open, and positive relationships with our managers and supervisors.”
The students and workers at Wesleyan had a final, collective message for the Bates College workers trying to unionize: “We cannot wait to hear of your victory in the upcoming election!”