On Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approved a stipulated election agreement that Dartmouth recently reached with the Student Worker Collective at Dartmouth (SWCD). Having this agreement in place means, among other things, that a hearing and certain other typical procedural steps at the NLRB will be bypassed and the petition will proceed to an election that begins March 1, just over three weeks from the date SWCD filed its petition with the NLRB to represent a unit of Dartmouth Dining student workers, a significantly expedited timeframe.
As President Philip J. Hanlon indicated in a Jan. 28 message to the SWCD, this decision “should be made by student workers in an election that allows all eligible students to express their will through the ballot as part of the well-established NLRB process.” In working with the SWCD and the NLRB to determine the election process, the institution’s goal has been to define a process that accounts for the complexities that the D-Plan system introduces with many students coming and going every quarter and the logistical challenges of making sure mail ballots reach eligible students whether they are currently on campus or not.
“Our goal has been to include students from as many terms as possible and ensure that the election takes place under a framework that allows for maximum participation with minimal delay,” said Joshua Keniston, vice president of campus services and institutional projects. “We believe that we have reached a fair agreement with the SWCD on the process for this election, which will include most fall and winter term Dartmouth Dining student workers and will have the NLRB mailing ballots out to students prior to the end of this winter term, before most students start to leave campus. Students will be responsible for updating their forwarding address in Banner to ensure it accurately reflect the forwarding location for early March.”
Under the agreement, ballots will be mailed to all Dartmouth Dining student workers who have worked at least 4.5 hours between Oct. 13, 2021, and Feb. 5, 2022. Ballots will be mailed by the NLRB on March 1 and need to be mailed to—and received by—the NLRB by Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Ballots will be counted on March 30, 2022. In addition, Dartmouth has pledged to stay neutral on whether Dartmouth Dining student workers should unionize, a pledge that is highly uncommon for employers to make in union organizing efforts, but one that reflects Dartmouth’s position that this is a decision that rests with the student workers.
“The decision to be represented by a union and to bargain collectively regarding terms and conditions of employment is a momentous one that will affect students and Dartmouth for years to come,” said Keniston. “We encourage all Dartmouth Dining student workers eligible to vote to use the coming weeks to educate themselves on the process and details of forming and administering a union and to consider how typical union processes such as governance, negotiations, dues, and seniority will need to be adapted to the student-work context. We are an educational institution and a decision like this is a perfect opportunity for students to engage with classmates and coworkers about the many factors to consider and to ultimately utilize their right to vote on this matter.”