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Second Iowa
College Staff
Goes UE


UE's rapidly expanding ranks in the Hawkeye State grew by more than 100 workers on Oct. 15 when support staff employees of Western Iowa Technical Community College voted to join UE.

The members of new UE Local 1145 are custodians, maintenance workers, secretaries, clerks, technicians and computer specialists, among others.

This is the second community college support staff to organize with UE in Iowa in less than a year. (See: Community College Workers Demand Voice, Vote UE).

WIT workers overcame many of the anti-union tactics traditionally used by private-sector companies, including the "captive audience" meeting. The WIT administration had a high-priced lawyer from the state capital drive to Sioux City in a failed attempt to convince workers not to form a union. In true UE style, workers had been informed of their rights, and stood up to confront the misinformation.

Workers adopted as their goals overtime pay, real negotiations, no salary-capping and preservation of benefits.

In particular, WIT workers were fed up with years of abuse and misuse of overtime pay. Recently, during a heavy renovation period at the college, time clocks were removed until workers were back to their normally scheduled hours. Some workers must even take monitors home with them on the weekends, to maintain the workplace building environments — without compensation.

The final straw, however, came when the administration backed out of an agreement with the staff on a leave benefit. This prompted Sue Lucken, a WIT secretary, to say, "We’ve seen what administrations can do and it should scare us all. Once united, we will have a voice, we’ll have real negotiations, and we’ll be united."

WIT support staff had assistance from UE Local 1187 members at Load King in Elk Point, S.D. as well as UE Local 801 members at the South Sioux City School District. Volunteer organizers Cheryl Funk and Theresa Conner of UE Local 898, Newton Community School District, also worked closely with the WIT workers.

WIT staff were assisted by UE Field Org. Rick Hartmann, with help from Field Organizers Ryan Downing and Rocky DeMaio and Intl. Rep. Greg Cross.

UE News - 11/98

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

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