at Hampshire College there has been a group called Students for Freedom to Unionize since about 1993. last summer we had a petition to support staff at hampshire while we still had president Ralph Hexter who, by this time last year, was not liked by many. you can see the petition here:
this year we have had marlene fried as an interim president. She has been very supportive of staff this year, especially when she came out with a statement on the rights of Hampshire College staff to unionize.
Before that statement came out, we had a great teach-in on February, 2011, called “Understanding labor unions and their alternatives.”
throughout the semester we as SFU have hosted staff and student lunches which have fostered casual, social spaces to talk about whatever comes up. we’ve had some really interesting conversations, especially with special guests who answered questions about how local unions organize and function.
the release of Marlene’s statement has already opened up more conversations about unions on campus. at the march all-staff meeting they took a vote. this meeting was open to all staff but was by no means attended by all hampshire college staff. but most departments were represented, if not all. the vote was whether or not to have an informational session about unions and the vote was 35 to 26 yes so this means that this friday there will be an “informational session” about unions. this will surely mark another interesting page in Hampshire College’s union history – or lack thereof.
i really appreciated on commencement this year when marlene hugged staff from physical plant. it was pretty touching for both staff and marlene, it seemed. a faculty member was the one that pointed it out to me that this conversing and hugging was happening, and she was very moved by watching this connection.
but all is not happy. a phys plant worker for twenty years, with five kids, has applied to a managerial position. this person was denied the position not for lack of job experience but because he had never finished high school!! we can’t let this slide by. the college purports to promote internal hiring but it is a farce!! i’m very frustrated by this and other things i’ve heard about the night manager who is getting moved to day manager. summer may have fewer students on campus but it doesn’t mean that we can be silent or complacent!
a interview with two members of SFU is available here: http://hampsignboard.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/sfu-interview-panel-video/