Saint Martin’s University students and faculty took part in a day-long walkout On March 1, 2017. Classrooms across the campus were empty throughout the day as a majority of classes were cancelled. Faculty and students participated in rallies, marches, panels, and off campus actions in support of worker’s rights.
They called on president Heynderickx to follow labor law, follow the teachings of his church, uphold the Benedictine values his school preaches, and to bargain with the faculty union in good faith.
During a lunchtime panel of women faculty each gave an emotional personal testimony of the ways they’ve been disrespected, ignored, and unprofessionally treated on campus. The crowded lecture hall went between tears and standing ovations in support of the panelists for their courage to speak out. Several faculty and students shared afterward that it was the most powerful moment that they have ever experienced in their years at Saint Martin’s.
In the afternoon, after an off-campus march, delegations of faculty and students traveling in vans visited the workplaces of over a dozen members of the Board of Trustees and delivered letters calling on them to adhere to the law, recognize the faculty union, and come to the bargaining table. Each visit was followed up with phone calls to their businesses asking them to use their influence to bring President Heynderickx to the bargaining table with faculty.
Karen Hart, the president of SEIU Local 925 and Heather Conroy, the International Executive Vice President for SEIU, both spoke at morning rally and gave encouragement from the National Day of Labor Action events for adjuncts in higher education happening all over the country. Members of SEIU 1199NW and the United Faculty of Evergreen State College, who know the benefits that a union can bring to both employees and the institution they serve, also turned out in solidarity.