BY KEVIN DIFFILY // NOV. 5, 2012 //
Troubled by managerial mistreatment, unfair working conditions, and threats of termination, the Curry Buildings & Grounds staff has decided to form a union. In a secret ballot held Oct. 16, staffers voted 16-3 to unionize.
A member of the B&G staff, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution by the administration, said his department’s management has mistreated workers for years. Vulgar language directed at the staff, belittlement and threats of termination without cause were among the most troubling issues, he said.
Michael Burke, a sanitation grounds worker, said the goal of forming a union was to create a more stable relationship between management and staff.
“There were issues, and the resolutions may not have come out how we wanted, and we had to decide on how to deal with it ourselves,” he said. Burke added that he hopes the college’s administration will now “be more attentive to our needs and maybe share the vision of what the college should be in the future, along with our role in getting that done.”
The workers joined the Area Trades Council, a Norwood-based labor group. Rich Sullivan, Curry’s chief financial officer, explained in an email that the ATC will act as the workers’ “exclusive agent to deal with the college on their wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment.
“Now that the election is over,” Sullivan added, “we expect that at some point the union and the college will sit down and begin negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement in accordance with the act.”
In a separate email, Bob O’Connell, director of Buildings & Grounds, said the college “respect[s] the rights of the employees in this regard and will abide by that vote.”
The Curry faculty has long been unionized, as a chapter of the American Association of University Professors. In 2008, the campus’s Public Safety officers nearly voted to join a union, but they ultimately decided against it.
Burke said the near-unanimous decision by B&G workers to unionize was made because the crew “decided to become more committed to each other in the effort. The more we talked about it and examined what it would bring to the table, [the more] the vote became solidified.”