Evergreen felt alumni pressure long before strike – and the decision to cancel Saturday’s “Return to Evergreen” event



SOLIDARITYThe Evergreen State College administration on Thursday afternoon cancelled Saturday’s “Return to Evergreen” gathering of alumni, blaming the desire by the Student Support Services Staff Union to achieve a fair first contract.

“Supporters of the Washington Federation of State Employees have communicated plans to engage in labor actions related to and/or during the planned event,” read the press release from college spokesman Todd Sprague.

The event will be rescheduled for the fall.

The bargaining team had a blunt response: “The Evergreen State College has canceled ‘Return to Evergreen’ on Saturday. No actions are scheduled.”

The Olympian blog carried more of the union’s side of the story: “Courtney Bailey, a member of the SSSSU’s bargaining team, said her union has been calling on the college to continue talks. She also said ‘our intent wasn’t to disrupt the event but to give information to people. I’m sad they canceled it… I hope they do it again.’”

In fact, mediation continues Friday.

Read the entire blog post: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/stateworkers/2013/05/30/strikers-back-to-work-but-evergreen-says-labor-action-forces-postponement-of-return-to-evergreen-event-planned-saturday/

The 57 Student Support Services Staff Union members, joined by at least 300 supporters, virtually shut the college down during Tuesday’s strike day.

What the college failed to publicly acknowledge is that noted alumni, including presenters at the now postponed “Return to Evergreen,” had announced their intention to stay away if the contract wasn’t settled. And they’ve been doing it since before the first strike sign ever went up.

Alumnus Brian Rainville, now executive director of Teamsters Joint Council 25 in Illinois, wrote college President Les Purce on May 27 – the day before the strike day:

“The college was kind enough to invite me to participate in a panel discussion about the labor movement at the upcoming ‘Return to Evergreen’ event.

“Unfortunately, if there is a strike, I would be unable to attend the event and would join the picketers.  While some would call this a teachable moment, I think it would be an unfortunate loss.  Working with 100,000+ Teamsters in Illinois, I know strikes are sometimes necessary.

“But strikes are always an indicator of a breakdown in communication.  And it seems strange that in 16 months of negotiations with at least five days of mediation all those people with all those university degrees can’t communicate enough to settle a contract.”

Continue to stay tuned. The bargaining team again wants to thank all Federation members for their heartfelt support.

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