October 4, 2019
Two Bennington College alumni penned a commentary that posted this week to VTDigger, calling on Bennington College management to come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with its workers; something that hasn’t been the case to date.
From the story:
There is a workers’ rights crisis at Bennington College. Every four years, Service Employees International Union (SEIU Local 200), which represent workers in the buildings and grounds, housekeeping, and dining services departments, bargains with the college over the key issues of health care and wages. Other issues on the negotiating table are holiday time, formalizing job descriptions, and respecting seniority. The negotiation of a union contract, or collective bargaining agreement, involves two committees — one that represents management interests and one that represents the interests of union members.
The union contract was up on June 30. Without a contract in place, Bennington College workers feel the anxiety of job insecurity, working without explicit protections, the potential to expand subcontracting, and coming into work to find that their jobs have been replaced. The college and the union have only met twice since the 30th, in part because the college has cancelled or postponed meetings three times. By cancelling bargaining dates, the college has demonstrated their lack of concern for workers’ time, not taking into account that union members may have to spend money on child care or take time off of their supplementary jobs to attend negotiations. Two weeks ago, the college bargaining committee cancelled a major negotiation meeting with little notice, right off the heels of trying to push back negotiations a year. Meanwhile for workers, the emotional and monetary toll of postponing negotiations is adding up. Everyone needs livable wages and adequate health care at the very least, but Bennington College is making increasingly clear that these rights are not guaranteed to their employees.