Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Ronald Schatz

Major

History (HIST)

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Between 1977 and 1982, nearly all the workers at Wesleyan University attempted to organize unions: the secretarial/clerical workers, physical plant workers, food service workers, public safety officers, and the faculty and professional librarians. This wave of unionization on a single university campus was a unique event, as no other college had nearly all its employees attempt to unionize in such close succession. Through interviews, archival research, examination of newspapers, and other sources, this thesis explains how and why this occurred at Wesleyan. It appears that the administration’s rhetoric that emphasized community, undergraduate education, and social change, along with high expectations for Wesleyan’s financial future created the distinct atmosphere that pushed workers to organize.

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