Statement from Goddard College on UAW staff union strike

Goddard College is deeply committed to the well-being of its UAW (Local 2322) Union staff and respects the right of the Union to engage in concerted activity, including the right to strike. However, we are disappointed by the decision by the UAW Staff Union to strike on Friday (March 24, 2023) as we believed that the Union and the College had made significant progress in negotiations over the past week and seemed very close to a final settlement.

Goddard College had been working closely with the Union to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement since the Spring of 2022. The existing CBA eventually expired on June 30, 2022. The College offered a 3% salary increase to take effect January 1, 2023, but the Union was unwilling to agree to language regarding management rights that is standard in almost every CBA in the United States. The College has also repeatedly invited the Union to use the facilitation of a federal mediator to settle our differences, but the Union has consistently refused.

As the College is responsible for the welfare, safety, and success of our students, the choice of the Union to strike when our students are in residency on campus is truly disheartening. Since Goddard is committed to providing the education and services to which our students are entitled, we are extremely grateful for all the staff managers who have been working tirelessly to ensure that the needs of our students are being met.

The College continued to negotiate in good faith through the weekend. On Sunday, March 26, 2023, the College offered the following terms, and withdrew the management rights clause:

1. A wage study to be completed by June 30, 2024

a. The parties will agree to prioritize addressing the compensation of employees who earn a wage under $20/hour.

b. When Goddard College student enrollment meets 400 students for two consecutive semesters, all Goddard College employees shall earn a minimum wage of $20/hour.

2. No furloughs for bargaining unit members for Fiscal Year 2023.

3. $600 signing bonus beginning July 1st, 2023.

4. An additional week of vacation by June 30th, 2023 (exact days in consultation with the supervisor).

5. A 3% wage increase on July 1, 2023.

Goddard College believes that this is all we can offer in light of our current enrollment numbers.

Goddard was formally placed on “Notation” in Fall 2022 by NECHE, the accrediting body, regarding concerns about the College’s finances as we fell short of our Fall enrollment projections. Unfortunately, this offer was not accepted by the Union and our team members now need to focus on attending to students for the remainder of the residency. The College hopes to resume negotiations next week.

Goddard College is dedicated to having a thriving and financially durable institution, being a leader in higher education innovation, and solidifying Goddard’s essential and unique contribution to the academic landscape. We hope the Union will join us to build a strong and sustainable Goddard. We feel our students, past, present, and future, deserve nothing less.

Mark Jones, Chair of Goddard College’s Board of Trustees, states: “The Goddard Board of Trustees respects the right of our Union members to engage in lawful strike activities and we fundamentally support fair wages for Goddard’s bargaining unit members. We also believe there is a shared commitment to the financial solvency of the College.

As a Board, we have the fiduciary duty to require that the College maintain balanced budgets, reserves, as well as established financial ratios so that our students remain eligible for federal financial aid. The Board is acutely aware of the difficulty of Goddard being a primarily tuition-driven institution in an increasingly competitive higher education environment. And the Board has full confidence in President Hocoy’s leadership of this College during these challenging times. We support his and the leadership team’s work to ensure the sustainability of the College in this dynamic environment.

Goddard celebrates its 85th anniversary this month; the College has continually evolved to be a leader in progressive education and it will need to continue to change to maintain its relevance.

We trust that Union members share the Board’s commitment to the long-term viability of Goddard and will work with us to ensure that the College continues to have an impact on the world for many years to come.”

Goddard College, Plainfield. 3.27.2023