Students stand with college employees in call to unionize

by Jack Skinner / Beacon Correspondent • October 15, 2015

Members of Progressives and Radicals in Defense of Employees, or P.R.I.D.E., the student worker solidarity group at the college, stood alongside Emerson staff to rally for the union organizing process outside the Ansin Building Wednesday afternoon.

According to P.R.I.D.E. media liaison Bianca Padro, a senior journalism major, the group is trying to advocate for the clerical, technical, and professional workforce at Emerson by petitioning President M. Lee Pelton to pledge neutrality as staff members continue to gather support. She said that those involved are currently coordinating with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 888, a union organization that unites public service, not-for-profit, and higher education workers throughout Massachusetts, to have their voices heard.

In an email statement from the college when the group announced their efforts in late September, Vice President for Communications and Marketing Andrew Tiedemann wrote that the college would not push back against these union efforts.

Padro said that P.R.I.D.E held the rally to make sure the college would stay true to their statement, and so that students knew about the unionization.

P.R.I.D.E. spokespersons led the assembly of students and staff from the Boston Common to Ansin.

The words of the leaders were met with applause from the 40 supporters.

Pelton was not available to receive the petition in his office when two members of the student organization went up to deliver it, so Executive Assistant Margaret Melanson accepted the petition on behalf of the president.

John-Albert Moseley, a program coordinator in the visual and media arts department, is part of the union organizing committee. He said he was overwhelmed by the student support for their cause.

“For me it’s having a voice, it’s having the opportunity for a level playing field to craft policy and change that makes Emerson a better place to work,” Moseley, who is now approaching his third year working at the college, said.

P.R.I.D.E spokespersons said they expect to hear back from President Pelton regarding whether or not he will pledge neutrality on the formation of the union.