Dartmouth Labor Union Elects Chief
Hanover — Dartmouth College’s labor union, Service Employees International Union Local 560, replaced its late president with his right-hand man in an election on Thursday.
Local 560 Vice President Christopher Peck won a four-way race to succeed Earl Sweet, who died in January after three decades of service. Peck outpaced his closest challenger, Scott Hunt, by an 80-vote margin, with two other candidates, Seth Nelson and Joanne Norton, receiving a smattering of support.
“Relieved,” Peck said, asked Thursday night how he felt. “But then there’s the pressure of representing all the people, even though I’ve been doing it anyway. Now I officially have the reins, so it’s a little added pressure.”
He declined to discuss the other candidates or his margin of victory in detail, saying he and the other contenders had promised one another not to.
“I wasn’t sure who was going to win, actually,” Peck said.
Hunt works with Dartmouth Safety and Security and has served as a police officer in Newport, Lebanon and Hanover, according to his page on the business networking site LinkedIn.
Peck, who has served as acting president after Sweet’s death, will formally take over the organization that represents about 500 service employees and campus security officers, assuming responsibility for its operations and for negotiations with college administrators. The position comes with a nominal stipend and, according to Secretary Susan Russell, runs until bi-annual elections in November.
The stipend is small, at just over $100 monthly, Peck said: the union prefers to fill leadership positions with workers who have their own full-time jobs.
The new president said he hoped to strengthen communications with members, bring more employees to the fold and improve the terms of the union’s contracts with the college.
Among his greatest challenges will be filling the void left by Sweet, whom Peck himself described as a “giant” in January.
“They’re big shoes to fill, as many people have been telling me, and I know because I’ve been working with him for so long,” Peck said.
A union member for 18 years, Peck, 48, works as a painter at Dartmouth and lives in Vershire.
Rob Wolfe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3242.