Dartmouth anti-capitalists coordinate with SEIU union for pre-debate protest

David Martosko Executive Editor
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HANOVER, N.H. — Although Dartmouth College students protesting in advance of Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate make an effort to hide it, the campus version of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests is coordinated closely with the Service Employees International Union local 506, The Daily Caller has learned. In an unguarded moment, Dartmouth’s senior vice president expressed his agreement with the union-led movement.

Chris Peck, vice president of SEIU Local 560, agreed to speak with TheDC on Tuesday. His union local represents most of Dartmouth’s non-professorial staff.

As that conversation started, a man walked by and squeezed Peck’s arm, saying “We’re with you on this one!” in encouragement.

“Who’s that?” TheDC asked. “The vice president of the college… Steve Kadish,” Peck said.

Indeed, Steven Kadish has been Dartmouth’s Senior Vice President and Strategic Advisor since May 2009. His photo on Dartmouth’s website matched the man who had those encouraging words for the SEIU “boss.”

Asked if his union local was coordinating the campus version of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest with students, Peck confirmed the relationship.

“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “Oh yeah, actually they’ve helped us for the last two years.” (RELATED: Dartmouth students know exactly which GOP candidates they hate)

When TheDC asked Peck is is was “totally fair to say that the union is connected with this group and that you do things together,” Peck agreed. “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

Others on the scene were less forthcoming. Clad in a purple SEIU shirt, 23-year Dartmouth employee Tom Chapman agreed to speak with TheDC only after seeking permission from Peck.

“He’s the boss,” Chapman said.

Asked to what degree the union was involved with the protest, Chapman explained that “the local is here to support Students Stand With Staff, who is supporting Occupy Wall Street.”

TheDC reported Monday that Students Stand With Staff leader Karenina Rojas described her organization as “a pro-union, pro-worker’s rights group on campus.”

Asked if the union local’s use of the protest group’s flyers and posters on the union’s website indicated a strategic connection between the groups, Chapman was evasive. “I would say — I’m not exactly sure… I’m just here as an employee.”

But when TheDC asked if the SEIU had had meetings with the student protest group to coordinate activities, he was more plainspoken. “We’ve had meetings, yeah,” he said.

A recent Dartmouth graduate named Matt — he declined to provide TheDC with his last name — was leading the protest itself on Tuesday, which drew approximately 30 people. Fresh from two days at the “Occupy Boston” protests, he told TheDC that he is “working on coordinating regional efforts to get something big, something massive, to attract a lot of attention.”

He denied, though, that the SEIU was involved in bringing the radical protest movement to this Ivy League campus.

“I’ve seen a couple people walking around in SEIU shirts,” he said. “That’s all I know.”

David is The Daily Caller’s executive editor and a Dartmouth alumnus. Follow him on Twitter