On Monday, the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K-SWOC) officially filed a petition for a secret-ballot union certification election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). We support this decision and the right to formally conduct a community election that enables all student workers to vote — regardless of whether or not they have a union card.
As our colleagues argued last year, the only way to uniformly decide whether or not student workers want a union on this campus is through a vote. By denying student workers this right, the College is denying them the right to use their voices.
Though voting eligibility will be determined through a longer conversation between Kenyon and the NLRB, K-SWOC intends for all student workers to vote in this election, a decision with which we wholeheartedly agree. It would be unjust to leave some student workers out of this conversation, as the outcome of this election impacts the future of all of them.
Before the Cleveland-based NLRB Region 8 holds a hearing in the next three weeks to sort out details surrounding the election proceedings, the College has the opportunity to enter into a stipulated election agreement and agree on a set of fair election principles. If the College does this, Kenyon student workers will be able to determine an election date without an NLRB hearing, which would expedite the democratic process. Because of this, it is imperative that the administration works towards an accord with K-SWOC before this hearing takes place, with the primary goal of ensuring that all student workers are able to vote in this election.
In April, K-SWOC called on the Board of Trustees to allow the organization to hold a community election. The Board denied that request, citing few reasons as to why, a decision which set off strikes and protests. Because the College never permitted K-SWOC to hold an informal community election, this recent filing with the NLRB is the only way for K-SWOC to receive real, concrete evidence about where student workers stand on the matter of union recognition.
This petition to the NLRB is a final resort for K-SWOC, which has been repeatedly denied opportunities for voluntary recognition by the College. Kenyon must live up to its declared values and allow its student workers to democratically decide on union recognition. We implore the College to meet with K-SWOC willingly and decide on election proceedings prior to the NLRB hearing rather than making the process longer than it needs to be.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Jordy Fee-Platt ’22 and Linnea Mumma ’22, managing editor Amanda Pyne ’22 and executive director Joe Wint ’22. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.