The Middle Path Partnership, a management-and-labor working agreement born of contract negotiations in 2012 and 2013, was trumpeted as a success story recently in the nation’s capital.
Representatives of Kenyon’s Operating Division and Maintenance Department traveled to Washington, D.C., to take part in “Who’s the Boss: Restoring Accountability for Labor Standards in Outsourced Work,” a conference held by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a labor advocacy group, on May 12-13.
David Kuninger, plumber and recording secretary of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 712; David McCoy, groundskeeper and vice president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers Local 2794; and Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman delivered a presentation to an audience of about 70 worker advocates, lawyers, and union organizers.
“The thing that I took away from this in hearing all these other people talk is that Kenyon is doing a lot of really good things the right way,” Kohlman said. He added that much of the conference spoke to the difficulties of outsourcing labor.
“That’s what opened my eyes,” Kuninger said. “I was expecting stories like ours.”
“It’s disheartening to think that there are so many companies that just don’t care,” McCoy added.
But all three said that Kenyon’s presentation was the diamond in the rough. McCoy said people were “happy to see that there was a positive side that could be accomplished,” when it comes to managing labor relations without outsourcing.
“We got a good reception from our presentation, because they were really glad to hear a success story,” Kuninger said. “That’s kind of the way I came away from it. I felt good that we got to tell our story and it was well received.”
The partnership-plan agreement was signed in August after negotiations that brought union concessions on wages and Kenyon’s commitment to a four-year operations-improvement plan. Kenyon committed to a three-year extension of collective-bargaining agreements for each union, a formal labor-and-management partnership agreement, reorganization of department support services, and a new computerized management system.
“We’re still really in the infancy of this because we’re about a year into it, but there’s a lot of promise,” Kohlman said at the conference in his closing remarks. “I’m encouraged about the future. I’m just really excited about keeping this going and looking forward.”
By Henri Gendreau ’16