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A Push for a Second Union of Student Workers at Hamilton

November 11, 2021

Student workers in Hamilton College’s admissions office voted last month to unionize. They had petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for the vote. It is the first win by undergraduates seeking to unionize since the NLRB in March revoked a Trump administration rule that made them ineligible for collective bargaining.

Now, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local One, which organized the admissions workers, has filed another petition with the NLRB. This time, the petition seeks to form a union for the 84 Hamilton students who are resident advisers or diversity workers. The new union is seeking better salaries and working conditions, it said.

A spokeswoman for Hamilton said the college’s position was the same as in the vote on the admissions union, when the college released a statement that said, “Hamilton is first and foremost an educational institution, with faculty and staff dedicated to supporting students in all aspects of their campus experience, including on-campus employment, which often provides opportunities for experiential learning. While unions for private sector workers (as opposed to government workers) have played a vital role in the past, and continue to do so in some settings, the college believes unions may not be a good fit for undergraduate workers. The college believes it is not a coincidence that unions are so rare among undergraduate student workers. The college strongly prefers to maintain a direct working relationship with student workers and hopes that relationship will not be severed in favor of an outside organization, with interests and an agenda that may well differ from what’s best for Hamilton students. That said, the college fully supports the right of any workers to choose what they believe is best for them.”

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