Goddard College staff union on strike demanding fair contracts, wages

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 9:19 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 27, 2023 at 4:04 PM EDT
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PLAINFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - Goddard College’s staff union has been on strike for four days now. Strikers say they want a fair contract with fair wages. The college administration says that’s exactly what they’ve been trying to give them.

“I was hurt when other employees at the college were given a 3% increase,” said Shannon Trainor, one of many frustrated staff members from Goddard College who went on strike Friday, after contract negotiations broke down between the staff union and administrators.

Staff members say the college raised wages for the administration but refused to do the same for them.

“Unfortunately, for almost a year management really insisted on that they would only give wage increases if we decided to give up our right to negotiate over working conditions during the life of the contract,” said Patrick Burke, the union president.

“Yeah, that’s not true,” Goddard College President Dan Hocoy said. “They are not giving up negotiation rights. Yeah, it’s illegal for us.”

Hocoy says the administration never asked staff members to give up their right to negotiate over working conditions.

He says the administration has been presenting offers to the union for a year, including just Sunday, and they’ve all been rejected.

“Unfortunately, that offer I just stated to you was not accepted. So our bargaining team members need to focus on attending to the needs of the students,” Hocoy said.

There are several sticking points but the big one is pay. Staffers want a 3% wage increase and for starting pay to be $20 an hour.

The school is offering 3% starting in July.

“Why it has to be July first is because that’s the next fiscal year,” Hocoy said. “We don’t have money for this fiscal year because it was budgeted.”

The school is tying starting pay to enrollment. Right now, 320 students attend Goddard. The administration says if that hits 400 for two straight semesters, then it will boost starting pay to $20 an hour.

Students I spoke to at the college say they are in support of the strike but are concerned.

“With only three days in the strike, students are having technical difficulties with their final presentations. Things are running off schedule,” said Isobel Ikard, an alumna.

Staff members who are on strike hope they can come to an agreement with the administration as soon as possible. Students hope for that, too, and some students say they hope there is an additional investigation on the current president as they do not feel supported.