The members of the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K-SWOC/UE) at Kenyon College are preparing for an open-ended strike to protest unfair labor practices committed by the Kenyon administration and Board of Trustees.
Contributions to this Strike Fund will go to alleviating financial insecurity and addressing any unforeseen hardship of student workers striking to protect their rights and support their coworkers who have suffered from unfair labor practices.
Since August 2020, K-SWOC/UE has organized majority support for a wall-to-wall union of undergraduate student workers. The Kenyon College administration and Board of Trustees have refused to voluntarily recognize our union, declined our offer for a secret-ballot election to determine majority support, and is spending significant college resources on expensive union-busting lawyers from Jones Day to fight our petition for a free and fair NLRB union election since October 2021.
Further, starting this January, the Kenyon College administration has made unilateral negative changes to the working conditions of student workers. They have announced plans to eliminate the residency program at a student-run Kenyon Farm, which would significantly reduce working hours available to student workers at the Farm. K-SWOC/UE members already engaged in a 24-hour strike on March 3 to demonstrate our strong opposition to these changes.
The administration also announced plans to switch residence hall workers called Community Advisors (CAs) from an hourly wage system to a stipend payment system that could open up CAs to exploitation through increased working hours without commensurate pay. At the same time as this change was announced, the administration also claimed CAs are not employees under federal labor law, intentionally implying CAs have no labor rights or protections, including minimum wage and overtime protections and the right to organize a union.
This coercive statement, along with similarly coercive actions taken against other student workers on campus this spring, was made in the context of Kenyon College attempting to strip the rights of all private-sector undergraduate student workers from forming unions. K-SWOC/UE members are mobilizing against these unfair labor practices and against the administration’s attempt to take away our rights through underhanded legal tactics, up to and potentially including going on strike to demand Kenyon College stops illegally coercing student workers.
In addition to resolving these unfair labor practices, K-SWOC/UE also believes the best way to prevent future labor law violations and guarantee the labor rights of all undergraduate student workers would be for Kenyon College to withdraw its legal challenges against our petition for an NLRB election, sign a stipulated election agreement, and begin bargaining in good faith for a fair first contract.
Issues K-SWOC/UE has been fighting for and will continue to fight for once recognized as a wall-to-wall union of student workers include:
- Adequate compensation that reflects the contributions we make to the Kenyon community
- Paid leave so no student worker will have to choose between pay and their health
- Payment for all hours worked for all jobs on campus
- Job stability and security
- Agency for workers over their workplace conditions
- A free and fair election without delay
Any financial assistance or other forms of solidarity to help us win this struggle would be greatly appreciated. You can reach K-SWOC/UE at [email redacted], on Twitter @KSWOC, on Instagram @kswoc, or at www.kswoc.org.