Cornish staff votes to unionize with OPEIU 8

‘This will empower the staff to continue to do the important work of fulfilling Cornish’s mission.’


The following is from OPEIU Local 8:

SEATTLE (Dec. 2, 2021) — The staff at Cornish College of the Arts on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for representation by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 8.

The group of 42 student support, administrative, IT and facilities staff in Seattle are dedicated to supporting Cornish’s mission of providing a quality arts-based undergraduate education. They sought to unionize to improve working conditions, increase transparency and have a chance to participate in decision-making that directly impacts the lives of staff and students. Their election result has been hard-fought after multiple delays due to a hearing and appeal to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by their employer since they filed for their vote in May 2021.

Cornish College of the Arts was started in 1914 and offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in the performing and visual arts and a Bachelor of Music degree. According to Cornish’s mission statement, the College aims to “provide students aspiring to become practicing artists with an educational program of the highest possible quality, in an environment that nurtures creativity and intellectual curiosity, while preparing them to contribute to society as artists, citizens, and innovators.”

Cornish staff unionizing with OPEIU Local 8 will be joining three other unions that currently represent other members of the Cornish Community: IATSE Local 17, Musicians Association of Seattle Local 76-493, AFM, and CFT Local 4169, AFT.  Cornish will be the first staff at an institution of higher education to be a part of OPEIU Local 8 in Washington state.

“Unionizing staff at Cornish has been a long process, but hugely rewarding and empowering. Knowing my coworkers and I will be able to work together to advocate for a fair, transparent and sustainable work environment brings me so much joy,” said Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Kaitlyn Vallance. “I hope this encourages additional college and university staffs in the area to consider unionizing.”

“I am so proud of the work that has gone into securing our victory today,” said Department Coordinator Rachel Brinn. “This will empower the staff to continue to do the important work of fulfilling Cornish’s mission to it’s students and the community.”

Anthony Rodgers, Access Services Librarian, is celebrating the victory because “unions increase representation and allow more opportunities for different voices to be heard.”

OPEIU Local 8 is a progressive, democratically run union working for social and economic justice since 1945. Local 8 represents more than 7,000 members all over Washington state working in many settings including offices, health and home care, housing, social services, the insurance industry, legal services and the public sector.


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