Call for Cooperation in a Community Election on the Issue of Union Recognition

K-SWOC has dedicated itself to following Kenyon’s Mission statement to “engage in spirited, informed, and collaborative inquiry” by reaching out to all members of the Kenyon community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees—to discuss and deliberate about the effects of student worker unionization.

Our focus on community outreach has led 57 faculty members to sign a letter stating, “[they] do not believe that such a union threatens the integrity of the College, its mission, or the important relations we enjoy with our students,” over 400 Kenyon alumni to join an open letter supporting union recognition, and the Kenyon maintenance workers in UE Local 712 to stand with student workers seeking a union. Put together, K-SWOC and community allies have assembled a broad and diverse coalition to support the rights of student workers to unionize and bargain collectively with the College.

Despite K-SWOC’s efforts to maintain communication with the College, there has been a breakdown of communication between K-SWOC and the College over union recognition and other important issues affecting student workers.

This lack of communication resulted in a majority of student workers in five workplaces, who were joined by over 100 other student workers, deciding to strike on March 16th to protest Unfair Labor Practices. The strike demonstrated that the relationship between student workers and the College is at a crossroads: the Board of Trustees refuses to recognize K-SWOC, yet a majority of student workers still want a real voice in the workplace through a union.

Remaining in this stalemate will only result in further polarization between student workers and the College, especially when the administration continues to implement unilateral changes to student working conditions such as the recent decision to eliminate Apartment CA positions and overhaul the CA hiring process.

In their rejection of union recognition in December, the Board of Trustees expressed a vague concern about whether a student workers union and democratic decision-making on campus were compatible. K-SWOC, which views union democracy as a bedrock principle, absolutely believes these two concepts are not only compatible but intimately connected.

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