What is Bates doing to stop unionization and is it legal? – Student Bates

In my opinion, the administration is anti-union and it is not good at hiding it.

Despite the insistence of the administration that “every employee has the right to support or not to support the union and to express their point of view. Bates will not tolerate or interfere with these rights, and [they] will respect the results of the elections ”, their actions are clearly anti-union.

Discriminatory application of the solicitation policy

A recent article in The student reported that Jon Michael Foley, a maintenance worker, “specifically encountered intimidating exchanges between himself and members of management … He was told he” was not allowed to use the Internet. [at Bates] to coordinate ‘or’ talk to anyone while they were on the clock.

Bates calls this solicitation. Employee handbook prohibits soliciting during working time. Bates’ definition of solicitation is: “approaching anyone for any of the following purposes: offering anything for sale, asking for a donation, raising money, soliciting or seeking to promote, encourage or discourage (i) participation in order to support any organization, activity, or event, or (ii) membership in an organization or group. The issuance or delivery of membership cards or requests for any organization is considered a solicitation. “

BESO organizers say Bates unevenly enforces its anti-solicitation policy. They claim that “the college has not widely enforced its solicitation policy in the past for matters such as selling Girl Scout cookies, asking someone to attend an event or signing a petition” according to one. recent MSEA SEIU Local 1989 press release. I believe this statement comes from employees who would know how the solicitation policies were applied, but I have no direct knowledge of the prior application of the policy.

General conversation restrictions

It is also important to note that Bates does not maintain any policies prohibiting employees from speaking on non-work related matters. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), “Restrictions on your efforts to communicate with coworkers cannot be discriminatory. For example, your employer cannot prohibit you from talking about the union during working time if he allows you to talk about other non-work related matters during working time.

So how does Bates get around this requirement while also banning organizing during working hours as a solicitation? The QandA live states that although soliciting is prohibited, “there is no restriction on general conversations about the union during working time, provided that the work itself is not interrupted by such conversation”. However, the situation that Foley described where he was not allowed to “talk to anyone while they were on the clock” seems to me to be a restriction on general conversation as opposed to a restriction on solicitation. .


Ian Brownlie, a grounds and maintenance worker, said Bangor Daily News this “several staff members were also told by a manager that they could potentially lose benefits if a union were approved. “

According to the NLRB, the National Industrial Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits employers from “Threatening employees with negative consequences, such as… loss of benefits… if they support a union, engage in union activity or choose a union to represent them. “

First, if Bates does not enforce solicitation policies in cases such as the sale of Girl Scout cookies, then they are discriminating against their policy specifically to prevent union organizing. This discrimination violates labor law. Second, if Bates prevents the conversation about organizing, they are contradicting their own policies, and if Foley’s claims can be justified, they violate labor law. Third, if management threatens to lose benefits if unionized, it also violates labor law in this way. Bates has said they will not interfere with the right to organize, and if the accusations of the BESO organizers are true, they clearly did interfere.

This is why the organizers of BESO filed an unfair labor practice charge against Bates. This means that the NLRB will investigate the charges brought by BESO and determine whether Bates indeed violated employment law. I think I made it clear that if the behaviors that Bates has been accused of did indeed occur, as Foley and Brownlie said, they violated the NLRA. Of course, it’s up to the NLRB to decide through an investigation.


If not, how does Bates potentially act in a way that inhibits unionization? Nicholas DiGiovanni, the lawyer who has met with President Clayton Spencer and other members of the administration, is clearly a lawyer on the employers’ side with interesting experience in union efforts.

The student reported that DiGiovanni “successfully advocated with the National Labor Relations Board for the executive status of all full-time faculty members at Tufts University Medical School and Elmira College.” For those unfamiliar with the legal vernacular surrounding the work, this means that he has been successful in preventing unionization by arguing that full-time faculty are managers, given their influence on issues such as curricula. studies and student affairs, and that management staff are not eligible to unionize. .

He has also written several articles available online. In a 2015 article, he writes that “a sprawling movement to organize adjunct and part-time faculty across the country has already brought academic collective bargaining to many institutions which until now only had to deal with the union. casual staff ”.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the way the phrase “had to face” hits my ear. This clearly characterizes unions as something difficult for colleges to manage and is an employer side perspective, which is expected of a lawyer on the employer side.

Now let’s see a brief excerpt from another paper he wrote:

“It is quite another to claim that a doctoral or master’s level professional with a range of employment options who chooses to work part-time by teaching a few college-level courses should receive a ‘living wage.’ Although auxiliaries claim that they cannot get full-time teaching positions, the harsh reality is that if one is in a certain sector of employment and full-time work is not an option. a viable option, a professional may then have to consider other lifestyle choices. It is not an institutional responsibility to transform part-time pay into full-time pay. “

To be clear, Bates does not employ part-time auxiliaries, so this opinion does not directly apply to any of Bates’ conditions. However, I am very concerned that the College has acquired the services of someone who strongly believes that people with doctorates (who are highly specialized, created by the colleges themselves, and who often put people in in debt), who usually have to do some further education to work before they can get a tenure-track position anywhere, do not deserve a living wage for their work.

Having a doctorate does not necessarily make you qualified for a range of employment options, in fact, in some ways, the specialization of a doctoral program limits your professional options. Beyond that, the argument he makes here is just plain immoral and disgusting to me, as it downplays the work of the deputies and blames them for the circumstances of the labor market that effectively exploits the contingent workforce of teachers.

From his record of loopholes in preventing unionization and the articles he wrote that belittled academic work, it’s clear to me that DiGiovanni has the best interests of the administration, not the employees, in mind. . Organizing goes against the interests of the administration despite its insistence that all workers should have the right to choose.

Full professor Erica Rand once said The student that Bates “hired an anti-union law firm” in 1999 when restaurant workers attempted to organize. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it looks like they have done it again.


Bates has engaged in “education” tactics through his live Q&A that don’t really provide an accurate picture of unionization. He cautions against many possible negative aspects of organizing while at the same time explaining absolutely none of the potential benefits. They said in this Q&A that “more recently many union contracts negotiated during the pandemic – including SEIU contracts – had no pay rise”.

According to Bloomberg Law, unionized workers saw an average wage increase of 3.3% in the first year of 2020. This data is based on 249 contract agreements, and almost all of these contracts were made after a pandemic was declared. This percentage increase is smaller than it has been in the past due to COVID-19, but it is still a pay rise. It is probably true that “many” union contracts negotiated during the pandemic did not have any pay increases, but it is also obviously true that many did have pay increases.

Unionized workers earn more on average than non-unionized workers, and that was still true in 2020 during the pandemic. According to National Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Among full-time salaried workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $ 1,144 in 2020, while those who were not unionized had median weekly earnings of $ 958. “

The Institute for Economic Policy reported that “94% of workers covered by a union contract have access to employer-sponsored health benefits, compared with only 68% of non-union workers and 91% of workers covered by a union contract have access to paid sick leave, compared to 73% of non-unionized workers. “

If Bates’ real goal was to educate fairly about unionizing, they would have information like this on the question-and-answer website along with all the alarm bells about the possibility of losing benefits or being forced to pay membership fees.

If they’ve gone so far as to create a website full of biased information about unions, hire an anti-union law firm, and discriminatively apply a solicitation policy in violation of labor law, a union is clearly something. threatening. While unionization is unlikely to result in any increase in wages, mandatory contributions

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