Keene State College should only be hiring unionized workers

For a long time I have considered Keene State College a progressive college, but there is one issue that I feel is holding this college back: labor.

There is definitely a progressive vibe from the faculty and the students, but the administrators who ultimately make the decisions have us languishing in the nineteenth century mentality of exploitation of the proletariat.

What is progressivism? Progressivism is a political ideology in America that emphasizes progress, and has it roots in the Progressive movement of Robert “Fighting Bob” LaFollette and Henry Wallace amongst others. One of the key aspects of Progressivism has been an emphasis on the rights of laborers.

Like the Socialist movement in Europe, Progressivism is the ideology that emphasizes power to working class (however, Progressivism is not Socialism: it isn’t revolutionary nor does it advocate proletarian control of the means of production and distribution, which is essential to being a Socialist).

To be a progressive campus, KSC can’t just hire left-wing faculty or tolerate leftwing demonstrations by students; any campus can do this.

To be a truly progressive college the campus needs to adopt institutional policies that reflect progressivism. These include free contraception at health centers, eco-friendly housing, etc.

For the most part KSC has done a lot of this. However, it shocked me to discover that Unico and Sodexo workers don’t have a union!

Keene State once had a unionized janitorial staff, then the college decided to privatize this service and outsource its services to Unico. Now Unico and Sodexo employees both work without benefits like health care or pensions.

These jobs are hard, and wear one down. But above all else, these are jobs that keep Keene State functioning. The people who do this hard, menial labor deserve a reward greater than the meager pay they receive.

So ultimately, I am urging KSC to do one of two things: discontinue contracting these positions altogether and give the workers the benefits they deserve directly, or mandate that anyone who receives contracts from Keene State College allow unions and provide benefits.

Labor unions have been on the decline since the 1980s, and have been derided as lazy and corrupt by the media (both entertainment and the news).

I wonder if it’s any coincidence that both entertainment television and the news media are both run by affluent folks who have a vested interest in keeping unions down. Businesses have been able to bust up unions and brainwash employees by showing them ludicrous training videos depicting unions as corrupt.

In reality, every justice movement has been built on a foundation of workers’ rights.

The first liberation movement was labor rights. And the first movement to be suppressed by every tyrannical regime since the industrial revolution has been the labor rights movement.

It’s time to take a stand on behalf of organized labor. Workers of KSC, unite! And students and faculty, I ask you to join in solidarity in peaceful letters of protest and petition to the college. And why stop there? Adjunct faculty are also getting shafted. Even though they have a union, they aren’t getting the benefits they deserve either.


James Taddeo can be reached at


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