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America’s Youngest Union? Reed College Dorm Advisers Organize

April 5, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

PORTLAND, Ore.—Resident advisers in the dorms at Reed College voted 34-14 Mar. 22 to be represented by Local 1 of the newly formed Student Workers Coalition. As all are undergraduates, the union’s average age might be the youngest of any in the U.S. One motivating factor, union supporter Zoë Gregozek told NWLaborpress, was that in 2016 the college reclassified them as employees, so the free room and board they were given for working three to 15 hours a week, worth about $13,670, became cash income they had to pay taxes on. While Reed has a reputation as a very liberal college, the administration reacted by trying to persuade the National Labor Relations Board that the advisers shouldn’t be allowed to unionize because they were students, not employees. The NLRB’s Seattle office rejected that claim. The advisers are the second group of Reed workers to unionize, after the janitors represented by SEIU Local 49. Student Workers Coalition spokesperson Seth Douglas said the new union wants to organize more student workers on the campus, demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage, the end of “at will” employment, and that the college recognize the union. Read more

April 5, 2018

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