Middlebury staff have begun efforts to unionize following a year-long workforce planning process aimed at reducing the college’s deficit, reported The Middlebury Campus in an article published Thursday.
The workforce planning initiative, which sought to cut personnel costs by offering voluntary buyouts for employees and redistributing work rather than laying off employees, saw the departure of 37 staff members—nine of whom were employed by facilities and dining services—as well as an increase in responsibilities for workers without an incremental wage hike to match.
Though, in an email to college employees, administrators deemed the efforts a success, Middlebury staff, specifically facilities workers, voiced uneasiness about the long-term ramifications of workforce planning—uneasiness which motivated facilities employees to reach out to David Van Deusen, union representative and president of the Vermont American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Since his initial contact with Middlebury employees in August, Van Deusen has taken concrete strides towards initiating unionization efforts on campus, organizing multiple well-attended interest meetings and distributing authorization cards for interested parties. In the past months, however, efforts have slowed as authorization cards have gone uncompleted and employees have raised their various concerns.
Though they face largely lukewarm reception from staff members and opposition from the administration, pro-union workers and Van Deusen remain steadfast in their belief in the possibility of a worker’s union at Middlebury as well as in its importance for the community.