Research assistants vote to join union
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 01:03
Graduate research assistants elected to join the Coalition of Graduate Employees, with 90 percent of those participating in the election choosing to join the union.
The results, which were announced last Friday, mean the coalition now represents all graduate student employees in collective bargaining with the university. The Coalition of Graduate Employees previously only represented graduate teaching assistants. The inclusion of research assistants brings the number represented by the union to more than 1,700.
The union first made an application to represent research assistants in March 2012, after the union collected decision cards from 63 percent of unrepresented graduate employees. However, this was challenged by university officials who declined to recognize the research assistants and then challenged the decision with a petition to the state Employee Relations Board.
University officials argued at the time that research assistants were primarily students, and while they were paid for their work, they were mostly trying to further their academic requirements.
In January, the Employee Relations Board found in favor of the Coalition of Graduate Employees, paving the way for an election, which concluded on March 7.
Wren Keturi, president of the Coalition of Graduate Employees, was happy with the outcome.
“This election affirms research assistants recognition as workers of the university and affirms their right to organize,” Keturi said in an interview conducted by telephone.
The election nearly doubles the size of the union, and Keturi said one of the first things the union plans to do is change the language of the bargaining document to include graduate research assistants. The coalition will be bargaining its contract with the university in the coming weeks.
Don Iler, editor-in-chief
On Twitter @doniler