by Joseph Brenner, Deputy Chief Of Staff
SEIU-Florida Public Services Union
Citing concern over withheld overtime pay, a general lack of transparency and openness in decision-making, and the lack of meaningful worker input at the College, workers at Santa Fe College in Gainesville have begun an effort to organize the College’s first labor union under the name Santa Fe United.
Workers have been meeting and discussing ways to fix problems at the school for years, but felt that management largely ignored their concerns. Believing that the only way forward is to organize their own independent organization outside the College’s “shared governance” structure, workers have been meeting with members of Gainesville’s larger labor community.
After several months of discussion, they’ve decided to work with SEIU-Florida Public Services Union, which represents college non-instructional staff at Hillsborough Community College in the Tampa area and 19,000 public workers across the state of Florida.
Though the campaign is in its early stages, workers have gathered support from instructional and non-instructional workers alike. Believing that the workers and management could come to an agreement over how best to address the workers concerns and seeking a fair, impartial process, the union reached out to Santa Fe College president Jackson Sasser and Human Resources Manager Lela Frye via email and fax to facilitate a meeting, but have been rebuffed in those efforts to date.
The union believes that the College has instead hired outside anti-union counsel in an effort to repel the union effort. However, the workers remain determined to have their voices heard.
The workers carry on their efforts daily, and understand that although organizing will be no easy process, it’s absolutely the only way they’ll win dignity and respect on the job.
Santa Fe United — Get involved. Stand together. Learn more at www.santafe-united.com.