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Staff and adjunct faculty at Bates College are working to unionize

Hedge Hall at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.
Wikimedia Commons
Hedge Hall at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Organizers have launched an effort to unionize about 650 staff and faculty at Bates College in Lewiston.

The proposed new union, called the Bates Educators & Staff Organization, would include any staff who aren't campus safety officers, tenured or tenure-track faculty, or management. On Monday, organizers announced that contingent faculty at Bates had filed with the National Labor Relations Board, and are working to organize all other staff members.

Visiting Professor Francis Eanes said the effort originally started during last year's campus reopening effort, which he said showed the needs and issues of co-workers across the campus.

"Every office began connecting with each other to explore what unionizing might look like," Eanes said. "Not because the union comes in as a third party and does things for us, but has a structure for all of us right here who love Bates and want to make Bates stronger, have a structure and organization that can actually have a seat at the table."

Olivia Orr, a web designer at the college, said a union would improve working conditions and pay, and allow for more inclusion and equity in the workplace.

"The lower one goes on the economic ladder, the more femme, trans, and people of color one finds. A union will give the powerless, and those who strive for inclusion and equity claim to uplift, actual, real world power. A union is indispensable to equity and inclusion," she said.

Organizers are working with MSEA-SEIU Local 1989. They say about 650 staff and contingent faculty are eligible for the union.