Election right to allow unionization
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 00:03
After a long struggle, Oregon State University’s graduate research assistants will be able to join the Coalition of Graduate Employees and be represented in collective bargaining by the union after the results of the election were announced last Friday.
Graduate research assistants voted overwhelmingly to join the union, with 90 percent of those participating in the election choosing to be represented by CGE. After several setbacks created by the university, it is good to see graduate employees are finally able to be represented by the union in collective bargaining.
We as an editorial board have spoken in favor of allowing graduate research assistants the option of joining the union, and thought the university’s stance against it was both wrong and not in the best interest of both its employees and its graduate students.
Research assistants provide valuable research and labor to the university in return for pay, benefits and advancing their own careers as academics or researchers. By being considered part of the bargaining unit, all graduate employees will now be represented by the union and will be able to negotiate for better pay and benefits. Research assistants have always deserved this right just as much as graduate teaching assistants do.
The argument university officials made against allowing research assistants to unionize was a weak one, citing obsolete case law from the 1970s and ignoring the fact that graduate research assistants are productive employees of this university. It was wrong for the university to challenge the initial application, and even though the state Employee Relations Board ultimately decided in favor of the research assistants, it delayed for many months what should have been allowed to go forward without any challenge.
Research assistants provide important work for the university, and many research projects — which generate millions of dollars for the university — would be unable to go forward without the contribution of them. It always seemed to be an easy decision in our eyes to give research assistants the recognition they deserved, and we’re glad they are finally going to get it.
But now that all graduate student employees are unionized, we wonder if this means faculty, and perhaps undergraduate students, might make similar moves. There have been attempts in the past where faculty looked to unionize, but it still hasn’t happened. This election could mean Oregon State University will be facing more unionized employees, changing the university’s ability to set pay and benefits in the future.
Editorials serve as means for Barometer editors to offer commentary and opinions on issues both global and local, grand in scale or diminutive. The views expressed here are a reflection of the editorial board’s majority.