Staff seeks union benefits

by Nathanael King / Beacon Staff • October 1, 2015

Members of Emerson’s clerical, technical, and professional staff are seeking to unionize, according to the organizers’ website.

​The staff behind the effort, a group called Our Emerson, said on their website that they are working with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 888. According to the chapter’s website, they represent over 8,500 public service workers in Massachusetts. SEIU claims approximately 2 million members.

The college sent out an email informing staff of this development on Aug. 25 after union representatives mailed communications to and visited the homes of Emerson staff. The email clarified that the college had not provided the addresses or phone numbers of employees to SEIU.

Andrew Tiedemann, vice president for communications and marketing, wrote in an email statement that there will be no administrative pushback to the union efforts.

“The College respects the rights of employees to organize, form, join, and assist a union, and supports and encourages the right for each individual Emerson employee to make an informed, confidential choice regarding whether to organize,” Tiedemann wrote.

By federal regulation, Our Emerson needs at least 30 percent of affected Emerson staff (called a “bargaining unit”) to submit Union Authorization Cards––which is how members prove their support––for the National Labor Relations Board to schedule an election. If the majority of voters in the bargaining unit favor unionization, it will be formed. Our Emerson says on its website that from there, a bargaining team comprised of co­workers will begin negotiating a contract with the college. Union dues with SEIU Local 888 would be 1.6 percent of members’ base pay, but Our Emerson promises that they will not accept a contract that lessens the net income of its members.

The Our Emerson website calls for “a​ real democratic voice in our future here, a say in pay and benefits, [and] job stability.”

Members of Our Emerson declined to comment on the union effort at this time.