Between 60 and 70 hourly workers at Bates College in Lewiston attended an in-person meeting led by an anti-union consultant on Tuesday, despite administrators’ new policies restricting in-person gatherings and outside visitors at the private liberal arts college due to surging COVID-19 infections.
On Dec. 29, as coronavirus cases in Maine spiked with the arrival of the highly contagious omicron variant during the holiday season, the college administration issued new COVID protocols to staff and students. These involved allowing only “students, faculty, and staff” inside campus buildings.
“This limitation includes audience members for musical performances, theater and dance productions, and art exhibits, as well as spectators at athletic events,” wrote Bates College Vice President of Finance and Administration Geoffrey Swift.
Union organizers say the college has made an exception to its own public health policy by compelling hourly staff to attend an in-person meeting with an out-of-state consultant. During the meeting, organizers say, staff would be exposed to anti-union talking points just days ahead of a mail-in union election set to begin on Jan. 6.
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