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Back to School, Back to Organizing for BC Grad Employees

Boston College graduate students are using a new ruling by the National Labor Relations Board to push harder for recognition of their union. (BCGEU)
Boston College graduate students are using a new ruling by the National Labor Relations Board to push harder for recognition of their union. (BCGEU)
August 31, 2016

BOSTON – Supporters of the Boston College Graduate Employees Union are taking advantage of the start of the fall semester to build on the momentum of a major ruling last week.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling restores union and collective bargaining rights to graduate student workers at private universities.

David Sessions, a graduate student and organizer at Boston College, says that decision – involving Columbia University – is helping efforts to get more graduate students to sign cards asking for union affiliation.

"We need a majority of students to sign a card and then at that point the university can recognize us on their own, or we can petition the NLRB for an election,” Sessions explains. “That's what Columbia did that led to the decision. "

New York University was the first private university to organize successfully with the United Auto Workers Union, and Columbia and the New School in New York were the second wave.

Sessions says there are about 1,000 graduate student employees among the 4,000 graduate students at Boston College. He says they already have hundreds of cards signed asking for recognition of their union.

Sessions says Harvard graduate students are also organizing with the UAW. And he explains why the students decided to align their efforts with an autoworkers’ union.

"They organize about 60,000 academic workers nationwide, and have a really strong history of success,” he states. “So that's why we made the choice."

Sessions says graduate students now provide a significant amount of the instruction at Boston College and that's why he says they should be paid accordingly.

The full name of the union will be something of a mouthful: The Boston College Graduate Employees Union ­United Auto Workers (BCGEU­UAW).


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA