COLCHESTER, VT — On a day that saw University of Vermont staff members vote down unionization, custodians at St. Michael's College have made labor history, according to Seven Days.
For the first time in the Catholic college's 108-year history, a group of its employees voted 18 to 17 in favor of organizing as an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the article stated.
According to the article, pro-union custodians said they voted for unionization for several reasons, including a claim that pay increases in recent years have been minimal to nonexistent.
Assisting in the organizing effort was the St. Michael's Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), which hosted biweekly "coffee breaks" for custodians to offer them pizza, coffee and soda, the article noted.
To the pro-union custodians and the students who supported them, the union vote represented a victory for the school's stated values of "truth, justice and charity," the article added.
"I want people to work in an environment where they’re not terrified of their boss. I want it so that they're able to plan how much their contributions will be to health insurance and pensions so they can figure out three years ahead what their income is going to be," custodian Graham Lebel said during an interview.
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