AUGUSTA — Today, workers at Bates College in Lewiston announced their intention to form a union, the Bates Educators & Staff Organization (BESO), with the Maine Service Employees Association (MSEA-SEIU Local 1989). Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, released the following statements regarding this organizing effort:
“Bates College is a nationally renowned institution that has routinely earned high marks among liberal arts colleges and received other lofty accolades. There is no question in my mind that the hardworking people who have dedicated their lives to the school are responsible for this success. Now, these hardworking people are asking for the opportunity to band together and speak as one collective voice to improve wages, working conditions and job satisfaction so they can better serve students in the wake of high turnover and low morale. Let me be clear – the workers at Bates College deserve the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not the Bates Educators and Staff Organization will help them achieve these goals in an environment free of fear and intimidation.
“I remain hopeful that the leadership at Bates College will show their gratitude for their employees who have been instrumental to the institution’s legacy and success by respecting their right to organize and remaining neutral throughout the organizing drive and refraining from the type of anti-union activity we’ve seen elsewhere.”
“Equity in education–in access to it, in its curriculum, and in its institutions is paramount. This is a goal I know Bates and all Maine colleges and universities strive to achieve. It’s clear the Bates adjunct faculty and non-managerial staff intention to form a union is for that overarching purpose. The dedicated individuals who make up the College deserve a clear voice in advocating for that goal, including wages, working conditions and terms of employment. I’m confident that is something Bates leadership, faculty, staff and students all agree on.”
“As a proud graduate of another small liberal arts college located in New England, I can say with certainty that the individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes are invaluable to the student experience and educational outcomes, whether it’s in the cafeteria, the tutoring center or residential life. Like so many workers across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for the staff at Bates College, who currently lack the job security of tenure or management positions but are essential to realizing the mission of the college. These employees deserve a seat at the table where decisions are being made and they deserve the chance to participate in the organizing process without fear of repercussion. This added insight and expertise will only enrich Bates College, staff morale and the student experience in the long-run.”