From the May-June 2022 issue of News & Letters
by Buddy Bell
About 180 student workers at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, stopped work for an all-day strike on March 3 to protest the elimination of a farm residency program. Senior Lynn Butzlaff was quoted in a strike pamphlet: “A union is the only way to ensure decisions about the farm program are made by the people who care for the animals and plant the crops.” One year ago, more than 60% of Kenyon College graduate and undergraduate workers voted to be represented by a union, but the university administration has not agreed to recognize this status. In the intervening year, Biden’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board added the crucial votes to reverse a Trump-era rule which had said student workers were not employees.
The graduate student workers at Indiana University went on strike April 13 for better wages, benefits, a stop to fee hikes, and recognition of the union. After two weeks and no agreement, students formed a soft picket line to block deliveries to the university, asking inbound truck drivers to voluntarily turn around. By April 26, students had voted to continue the strike through finals week. Faculty members face a tight grading period without the help of graduate workers, and more than the required 50 signatures were gathered in order to convene a special faculty meeting to consider a vote of no confidence in the provost, who has refused to negotiate with the strikers.
When the weapons corporation General Dynamics held a recruiting event at Tufts University on April 25, about 20 students held a protest outside, while others attended the event and questioned the company representatives. The recruiters eventually decided to end their event early. Senior Maya Morris held a sign that said, “U.S. made bombs kill Yemeni children.” As she explained to Tufts Daily: “It doesn’t matter which sector you work for under General Dynamics. The basis of their existence is to make money by the sale of arms.”