In the Sun Journal’s coverage of the long-awaited counting of ballots in the Bates Employees & Staff Organization’s (BESO) vote to form a union, reporter Steve Collins’ conclusion and reporting demonstrate a lack of understanding of what workers faced at Bates in this campaign, or what workers in general face in most efforts to form unions where they work.

More than 42% of employees voting in the election voted for democracy at work, and a voice and legal standing in decisions that govern their work life. They stood strong for these principles despite college management running an expensive, extensive and unrelenting campaign against their option to form a union.

Employers across the country spend over $340 million a year on consultants and lawyers to help them prevent having to bargain collectively with their employees. Bates management hired three lawyers and more than one consultant who helped them run anti-union meetings, stall the election, and raise doubts and fear among employees about making change.

Employers use their easy guaranteed access to employees and the leverage they have by virtue of controlling workers’ employment and income. Current U.S. labor law lets them use this power extensively to quash democracy in the workplace.

The only things March 23’s vote made clear are that Bates management’s campaign to prevent employees from coming together as a union was effective, and that the power to make decisions about the workplace will continue to rest solely in the hands of Bates management.

Cynthia Phinney, Livermore Falls

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