EKU faculty and staff are unionizing, school responds

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Published: May. 4, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Faculty and Staff at Eastern Kentucky University are unionizing, calling it a response to years of stagnant wages and a poor work culture.

“You know as a staff member we’ve seen a lot of job compression, consolidation of staff position you know in departments where they had two and three and four full time staff positions, now we have one or two.” Said Seth Littrell, a Communications Specialist for the School of Communication.

Littrell joined the UCW at EKU earlier this year. He said faculty like Gerald Nachtwey, an Associate Professor of English, are not getting the support they need.

“For a long time we have been told that the administration is listening and they are aware of these problems. And if that’s really true, now is the time to act on them.” He said. “Now is the time to make substantive changes.”

Nachtwey said he believes a union should have been put in place over a decade ago.

EKU joins the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System as members of the larger United College Workers system.

The UK UCW branch successfully backed a push to increase the minimum wage and increase Covid safety protocols.

When reached for comment, EKU Spokesperson Sarah Baker said:

“Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) has a legacy of collaboration and shared decision-making with our staff and faculty through two longstanding groups, the EKU Staff Council representing EKU’s full and part-time employees and the Faculty Senate representing our distinguished faculty. In addition, representation exists via a Staff Regent and Faculty Regent, who are each elected by their peers to serve as voting members on the highest university decision-making body, the EKU Board of Regents. For over a century, this tradition of shared governance has allowed for open lines of communication between faculty, staff and the EKU administration moving our institution forward through even the most challenging of times.”

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