UVM staffers reject union


Nov. 14, 2012

Michele Patenaude
[email protected]

Darren Allen
802.224.2403 (office)
802.839.8618 (cell)

BURLINGTON – Non-unionized University of Vermont workers rejected
forming a union after participating in the largest union election ever
conducted by the Vermont Labor Relations Board.

The decision was disappointing to University Staff Union-NEA, the
group that filed for the election after more than a year on campus.

“We’re sorry our brothers and sisters made this decision,” said
Michele Patenaude, a University Staff Union-NEA leader who works in
the Bailey Howell Library on campus. “We remain the only group of
workers on campus without the protections and benefits of a union.”

Nearly 800 people were eligible to vote in this week’s election.
Another group of about 800 people – who, unlike those who voted today
and yesterday, are not eligible for overtime pay – is working with
USU-NEA in an attempt to file for their own election.

University Staff Union-NEA is prepared to continue its work, Patenaude
said. “No union has won on the first go-round, and we will continue
our work here,” Patenaude said. “While tonight’s results are extremely
disappointing, we still believe that having a union is better than
going it alone and working at the whim of university administrators.”

The unions representing the faculty and the maintenance workers
endorsed University Staff Union-NEA earlier this month, and urged
staffers to vote for union representation.

Press Release

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  • Kelly Stettner

    STAND FAST! Stay the course — Unions have become the scourge of our country and have ruined the free market as well as the educational system.

  • Padraig Pearse

    How so, Kelly? As union density has decreased, the disparity between the wealthy and middle class has reached an all-time high. States with “right to work” laws that limit collective bargaining are the biggest recipients of government assistance.

    Here in VT, while UVM executives are making obscene salaries, front-line workers seem to be at the mercy of the Administration’s bottom-line objectives. Seems to me like the staff voted against their own self interests on this one.

  • Karl Riemer

    “the staff voted against their own self interests on this one”
    Now, wait a minute. The vote was not against organization, it was against representation by this union at this time. Unions are not created equal and the workers have been mulling this over for quite a while now. I’d say: respect their judgement of where their best interests lie. We don’t know all the ins and outs of their choice, so we shouldn’t be second-guessing them. Their reasons are their reasons, which may or may not seem like good reasons to us with opinions about unions in general, but I’m virtually certain their reasons were more subtle, complex and various, less ideologic and better informed than ours.
    (This is a response to Padraig. There is no rational response to right-wing bullshit that forgets the horror story in this country before organized labor civilized it. Advocating a return to sweatshops, child labor and working until you drop because the only retirement is death isn’t merely anti-worker but anti-human. Unions humanized this country.)

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