Graduate Assistants At U of R Want To Unionize

Aug 24, 2016
Originally published on August 24, 2016 5:04 pm

Graduate students, faculty and union officials gathered on the Wilson Quad at the University of Rochester on Wednesday to say that the graduate assistants at the U of R will try to form their own union.

That’s after the National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that graduate students who assist in teaching and research at private universities have a right to union representation.

This ruling reverses the 2004 Brown University decision that blocked graduate students from collective bargaining.

Andrew Thomas is a doctoral student at U of R and former adjunct instructor and said that  many graduate students having to work extra jobs on top or their teaching roles and personal course work, as well as having to deal with ever changing work schedules.

"Recently a colleague told me he was asked to teach a graduate level course that he had never taught before with only 2 weeks’ notice."

Tahlia Fischer, a former graduate instructor at Syracuse University and current adjunct professor at Ithaca College said it’s important for these students to have the ability to support and work to make changes for each other.

"Without this opportunity they remain individual, divided and powerless."

Scott Phillipson is the President of SEIU Local200 United, and said this is the beginning of a bigger movement.

"You know we're here today because graduate students are the next group in a huge national movement for equity and justice on campuses."

The University of Rochester issued this statement:

"Under the National Labor Relations Board’s decision yesterday, graduate students who work for the university now have the right to organize and they may choose to do so. We are carefully reviewing the decision. We intend, as always, to support outstanding academic and employment relations for all at our university."

The SEIU Local200 United already represents 300 workers on the U of R campus.