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Community College
Workers Demand
Voice — Vote UE

WATERLOO, Iowa

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For years, the 120 clerical, custodial and other support workers at Hawkeye Community College have been forced to put up with arbitrary changes in their schedules and job duties, no real seniority and a "grievance procedure" with no time limits for management and no guarantee of an impartial hearing.

All that changed on Dec. 9 when workers voted 71-18 to be represented by their own union, UE Local 855.

Delores Kuhse, an account clerk and member of the Organizing Committee, said workers chose to organize now because of increasing enrollment and changes in the administration. "What better time than now for the classified staff to join together as a united front?"

Once a majority of Hawkeye workers had signed UE cards, they met with local leaders of UE Local 893-IUP and the Black Hawk Union Council AFL-CIO to explain why they were organizing and to enlist their help in winning a fair union election. Workers presented a petition calling for a fair election signed by more than 300 community members and union leaders to the Hawkeye Board of Trustees on Sept. 16.

While the community campaign was successful in preventing an all-out anti-union campaign, the administration did engage in legal delaying tactics. The union fought hard to keep everyone in the bargaining unit, but the administration’s lawyer used dubious testimony to exclude department level secretaries from the union. The new UE local is committed to continuing its fight to bring all classified employees under the protection of a UE contract.

Despite the administration’s delaying tactics, workers maintained solidarity by holding weekly coffees after the first shift and lunch-time meetings during the second shift. Organizing Committee member Jane Walters said that "Keeping everyone informed was a key factor in our victory."

Issues Hawkeye workers are looking to address in their first contract including winning insurance and holiday benefits for part-time workers, fair wage scales and wage increases, and, of course, a real grievance procedure. Union members are looking forward to beginning negotiations in late January.

The Hawkeye Community College support staff was assisted by UE Local 893-IUP Dan Kelley, Lynn Sigler and Mary McElroy, UE Local 896-COGS members Russell Hess, Jonathan Kissam, Julie Schmid, Margaret Loose and Jolene Stritecky. UE Field Org. Heather Riemer was the lead organizer on the campaign; she was assisted by Field Organizers Rick Hartmann, Leah Fried and Sylvia Kelley and Intl. Rep. Greg Cross.

UE News - 01/98


Home -> UE News -> 1998 Archives -> Article

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