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Graduate Employees Union Wins Election, Gains Collective Bargaining Rights

The Boston College Graduate Employees Union – United Auto Workers won its bid Wednesday night with the National Labor Relations Board to establish collective bargaining rights with the University. The final tally was 270 votes in favor and 224 against.

“I was pretty confident that we would win, but this is still such a great feeling, such a great victory,” said Victoria Gabriele, a second-year Ph.D. student in physics.

The vote is the culmination of a yearslong organizing process for the union, and BC is the latest in a string of private universities whose graduate employee unions have successfully voted for collective bargaining. BC filed a motion to have the vote delayed and the NLRB’s decision allowing the election reviewed, but the Washington, D.C., NLRB this week denied the motion. Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley, on Aug. 21, released an open letter outlining its opposition.

Vice President for Human Resources David Trainor published an open letter to BC faculty Aug. 29 with recommendations for how faculty should talk to their grad students about the election and what they could and could not say. In the letter, he said that the United Auto Workers had promised graduate employees at some schools that they would achieve certain increases in compensation or benefits once the union had formed.

“It is perfectly acceptable for faculty supervisors to inform graduate students that in collective bargaining neither side is required to agree to what the other side proposes, although the parties must bargain in good faith,” Trainor wrote.

“We are disappointed by the results of the election, and will review our legal options with the NLRB in Washington regarding the regional director’s decision to approve the election,” University Spokesman Jack Dunn said in an email. “We remain committed to supporting all of our graduate students, whose contribution to the mission of the University we value and appreciate.”

Asked about the relatively close vote, Gabriele said union members would now have to work together with any graduate employees who might be opposed.  

“We’re going to have to find a way to work together, figure out what their issues are, and figure out something that works for everyone,” Gabriele said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Featured Image Courtesy of Boston College GEU – UAW

September 13, 2017

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