Employees picket outside Fairfield University

Fairfield University employees took their negotiations with the school public Saturday, April 27. (John Kovach Photo)

Fairfield University employees took their negotiations with the school public Saturday, April 27. (John Kovach Photo)

Employees of Fairfield University picketed along North Benson Road Saturday, April 27.

Carpenters, energy workers, grounds employees, electricians and professors joined operating engineers, who have been negotiating their first contract with the school since they voted to unionize in August of 2012.

They are the first employees union to work directly for Fairfield University, Tim Craig said. Other organized labor at the school is subcontracted.

The school issued a statement shortly after noon Saturday; “Fairfield University is presently engaged in contract negotiations with a labor union that represents some employees of the University’s Facilities Department. The university has bargained in good faith throughout these negotiations and will continue to do so. While progress has been made, there are issues remaining  that separate the parties.  The union has stationed pickets on public property at entrances to the campus to publicize its dispute with the university. Fairfield University will remain open and will continue to fulfill its educational mission.”

Those holding signs said they were seeking publicity in their fight for job security and better pay for workers living in Fairfield County. In particular, Pat Bike said, they were supporting the eight lowest paid members of the bargaining unit, working for wages as low at $13.91 an hour.John Minopoli said many of those working at the school chose lower wages to allow their children to attend Fairfield University, making that trade-off.

Craig said employee contributions for health care have increased, but those higher costs have not been offset by wage hikes.

Politics Professor Jocelyn Boryczka, president of the Fairfield University Chapter of the Faculty Welfare Committee, said faculty, staff and students all come together to form the school community, and that’s why she and other professors were present.

“We are one Fairfield,” read flyers handed out by Math Professor Irene Mulvey. On back was a quote from Pope John Paul II: “Unions … are a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice.”

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