From President Amott:
Dear Knox Community,
Over the last two days, there has been continued discussion regarding the current status of dining services at Knox, particularly regarding the status of our employees. As has been reported, a handwritten message was found in dining service employee mailboxes late last week. When we were made aware of the message, we turned the matter over to the union that represents our workers, SEIU Local 73. At that time, we communicated with Dale Hillier, Vice President of Local 73, to make clear the College’s position on freedoms of speech and association. As you know from the email thread posted by Ryan Lynch, Mr. Hillier has affirmed that the “Union seeks to educate its members on issues that may affect them but does not try to silence or stop them from the decisions they choose.”
Please rest assured that no dining employees have been threatened or retaliated against for engaging in protected activity to improve compensation and/or working conditions and that they are free to engage in such activity at the faculty meeting without fear of retaliation. The College fully recognizes and supports all protections available to employees under federal and state law. These protections extend to all faculty and staff members, whether they are covered under collective bargaining agreements or not. In addition, employees who are union members have specific protections as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement (the contract between the College and SEIU Local 73). The College has reaffirmed these protections every time that we have renegotiated the union contract since 1995, indicating our participation and compliance with the National Labor Relations Act provisions that constitute the nation’s collective bargaining framework. Furthermore, as an academic institution, the College has a special and enduring commitment to freedoms of speech and association, as outlined in the Faculty Handbook and the Student Handbook, among other documents. This commitment is reaffirmed daily in our decisions and practices. If you wish to learn more about the protections available under the law, see here (for union members) and here (for all other faculty and staff). The law also protects certain social media activities, which are described here.
As Keith Archer stated in his recent message to campus, Knox’s employees are one of the College’s most valued assets, and we are committed to fair treatment and working conditions (you can read his original message here). I hope the information I’ve provided helps to explain how the College is responding to the situation.