The reason: they just can’t afford to keep the facilities housing the academic arm of the labor movement open anymore. “The cost to operate and maintain a large campus in such an expensive metropolitan area is exorbitant,” said the college. No other college in the Washington area has closed or is planning to close because of costs.
Instead of teaching students at the facility just off New Hampshire Avenue at the Capital Beltway, online courses will be offered. Once the 47-acre facility is rezoned and sold, student housing will disappear. Instead, new students will get to live in union halls. Some 200,000 union leaders have passed through the college which offers undergraduate degrees at community college prices.
In a symbolic blow to the labor movement, the school said it was giving up management of the George Meany Memorial Archives & Library. It will be up to the AFL-CIO to figure out what to do with it, said the school. And the National Workers Memorial, on the Silver Spring campus, will have to be moved.
Worse, the closure will end the employment of several union workers. Educators and professors will be allowed to work from home and eventually another facility, “but this process may take months or even years,” said the school.
The stunning closure comes as Big Labor is facing a membership death spiral. Some 11.8 percent of American workers belong to unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1983, 20.1 percent carried union cards.
The school’s President Paula Peinovich did not take our call, delivering a list of questions and answers instead. She did tell Inside Higher Ed, a trade site, that the school’s board was dumping the campus “to focus on the college.”