The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) notified the College and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) that an administrative hearing previously scheduled to begin on May 8 has been postponed until May 22. The purpose of the hearing is to consider a petition filed on behalf of the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee (K-SWOC), which seeks an election to determine whether all undergraduate student workers at Kenyon should be represented by the UE for the purposes of collective bargaining.
The NLRB has not previously decided whether an election in a campus-wide unit of exclusively undergraduate students is appropriate under federal labor law, and K-SWOC’s petition has prompted the NLRB to take up this and other important legal questions at this time.
Among those questions is whether a diverse group of student workers such as the one proposed at Kenyon belongs in a single group for collective bargaining. One key purpose of the hearing is to provide the NLRB with factual information about what Kenyon student workers in various jobs do — how they are hired, what skills are required for their work, what work they perform and under what conditions, how many hours they work, how they are paid, whether and how they are evaluated or disciplined, and other similar factual details.
These details are best presented by individuals with direct knowledge of student work. Kenyon will ask people speaking to these issues to answer straightforward questions and provide factual information, not to provide their opinions about unionization. Any testimony will be presented at a remote hearing, so individuals may participate from wherever they are most comfortable.
The postponement provides the NLRB with additional time to resolve objections made by some Kenyon students to the release of their personal information, as well as to complete a confidentiality order covering student information. Kenyon has worked diligently and cooperatively with the NLRB and the UE to preserve students’ privacy rights throughout the NLRB process, and to address the challenges that the federal education privacy statute, FERPA, presents in the context of NLRB proceedings.
Visit Kenyon’s website to learn more about the petition before the NLRB and the legal questions it raises, or to read why Kenyon believes it can best serve its educational mission by working directly with students rather than through a union.