Saturday, December 13, 2008

Research Assistants Organize

In an action that could inspire UA graduate students, Research Assistants at the State University of New York Research Foundation at Stony Brook, N.Y., held firm against a strong anti-union effort to gain representation with Communications Workers of America Local 1104 on Dec. 5, reported District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton. The vote in the NLRB-sponsored election was 214-135 with 35 challenged ballots. Nearly 740 RAs are employed at SUNY's Stony Brook University campus.

The SUNY workers, all doctoral students, are seeking better pay and benefits and fairer treatment from a university administration that has continually claimed that it could not afford to pay them a more livable wage. The RAs are particularly aggrieved over a $500 transportation and technology fee that the institution charges them each semester – a fee that has been waived for graduate and teaching assistants at Stony Brook, who were already represented by Local 1104.

"It doesn't sound like a big deal, but for a lot of RAs making $20,000 a year, $1,000 is a lot," RA Matt Engel, a member of the organizing committee, told Newsday following the victory. "Basically, there has never been a negotiated raise for RAs ever," he said.

Local 1104 represents more than 4,000 graduate and teaching assistants at Stony Brook and in the SUNY system.

Though affiliated with the State University of New York, the privately-managed Research Foundation resorted to captive audience meetings, one-on-ones, and other tactics to squash the RAs' campaign. Management also sought to delay or even block the election by challenging earlier NLRB decisions that allow research assistants the right to organize.

University of Arkansas Research Assistants and Teaching Assistants are eligible for membership and are welcomed in AFSCME Local 965

1 comment:

Razorbacker09 said...

Arkansas graduate students are too dedicated to drinking and partying to make any serious commitment to social justice or organizing for decent wages. They don't see themselves as workers. It is a short term ride for them, and they don't really mind being exploited.