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Letter from faith leaders regarding Bates College union organizing

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As faith leaders throughout Androscoggin County, we have a strong interest in the efforts of Bates College employees to organize as a union. Many of these workers are valued members of our congregations and all reside in our communities. 

Our faith expressions differ, and our worship rituals vary. But our unity on this issue recognizes a common awareness of moral truths. These truths proclaim, “Work is sacred, and the workplace is called to be just.” This flows from our common human dignity. Our work is called to manifest that dignity and allow our humanity to flourish.

Human rights exercised in responsible ways secure human dignity and enhance justice in our society. As faith leaders, we are committed to supporting the human rights of all people. Among these are the right for workers to organize for purposes of collective bargaining and securing justice in the workplace.

We support the right of all Bates College workers to decide for themselves whether to organize as a union or not. Like all workers, they have the right to make this decision free from any pressure, threats, confusion, or exploitation. They have a right to receive accurate and timely information to help them make a choice.

We are aware of organizations and companies established for the sole purpose of opposing union organizing. They utilize fear, confusion and intimidation as tactics pushing employees to oppose a union. These tactics are beneath the dignity of Bates College and can have no place in an institution with a mission dedicated to “Preparing leaders sustained by a love of learning and a commitment to responsible stewardship of the wider world...”

We call on Bates College administrators and leaders and all those involved in this labor election to conduct themselves only with the dignity of all workers in mind. Employees subjected to intimidation and misinformation violates their human dignity and the collective dignity of the Bates College community.

We will closely monitor this process by conversations with congregants working at Bates College. We will also be concerned with the collective bargaining process for an initial contract should employees choose to organize as a union.

Rev. Dr. Jodi Hayashida, First Universalist Church of Auburn

Father Edward Clifford, St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Parish

Reverend Mia Dyson, Wales Presbyterian Church

Pastor Forrest B. Genthner, First Baptist Church of Livermore Falls

Reverend George S. Sheats, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

Reverend Deborah Rogers Duval, High Street Congregational UCC

Reverend Sara Bartlett, United Church of Christ