Faced with budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kenyon College Board of Trustees chose to suspend all retirement contributions for their 600 or so full-time staff. Among those staff were the 25 members of UE Local 712, which represents maintenance workers at the liberal arts college.
In negotiations this summer to extend their contract, Local 712 — supported by a coalition of students, faculty, and alumni — were able to win a restoration of the cut over time and to take a bite out of the step wage schedule. The one-year contract extension provides for repayment of the missing year of retirement contributions over three years. The agreement also cuts the step wage progression in half while also raising the starting rate by around $5.00.
Due to the structure of the college’s retirement plan, the repayment won by Local 712 will also be extended to the rest of the staff at the college.
Community supporters collected nearly 1,300 signatures from students and alumni, made an issue of the retirement cuts in the faculty senate, and did a direct email campaign to decision makers at the college. “Through different administrations and changes over the years, Local 712 has always been fortunate to have support from a broad swath of the Kenyon community including students, faculty, alumni, and staff,” Local 712 wrote in a statement. “This fight was no different and we would like to thank our partners and supporters whose outreach and work helped make this possible.”
The Local 712 negotiating committee consisted of President Robert (Bob) Smith, Chief Steward Ryan Rager, Vice President Glenn Goodwin, Recording Secretary Ward Stover and Secretary-Treasurer Rich Cannon. They were assisted by Field Organizer Hayden Schortman.