Goddard College workers reach contract agreement, end strike
PLAINFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - After 28 days on strike, staff at Goddard College in Plainfield have struck an agreement with the administration that union members are calling a success.
“I don’t think anyone wins a strike. I think we’ve learned to listen to each other and to collaborate for the sake of our students,” said Goddard College president Dan Hocoy Friday.
After a nearly month-long strike, unionized staff at the school reached an agreement and are now back on the job.
“We’re all very happy to be back, and it’s been a long month for sure,” said Trevor Utton, a union organizer.
The union, which includes roughly 30 non-faculty employees across the college, voted Wednesday to end the 28-day strike after reaching a deal that included wage increases and more time off. “After back and forth and trying to figure out between our constituency and what administration can offer, we’re able to come to a very middle ground, We were able to really accomplish a lot of great stuff during this contract,” Utton said
Staff members had been without a contract for about a year and the strike began last month after contract negotiations broke down over the workers’ request for a 3% pay raise. Union members said they felt the administration was withholding pay raises as a negotiating tool. Hocoy says that wasn’t the case. “That’s a misrepresentation of what happened. I truly believe that the staff union understands that we have a tight rope to walk with regards to our finances, accreditation demands, and the necessity of changes that will support the college’s long-term sustainability,” he said.
The final agreement includes a 5.75% raise for staff earning less than $20 per hour and a 3% raise for those earning more than $20 per hour.
“There’s a lot of relations that need to be repaired. But as a union, we are very happy at this point. But there’s more work to be done,” Utton said.
The agreement will last one year, after which Hocoy says everything is back on the table. In the meantime, staff and administration say they’re glad the divide has been put to rest.
“I’m really relieved that we’ve come to an agreement with the staff union. It was really hard to see our community split like that with a strike,” Hocoy said.
The new contract is expected to be ratified by this summer.
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