Syracuse University graduate student workers have successfully unionized.
Syracuse Graduate Employees United, affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, said in a news release that the vote was 728 to 36, with 90 contested ballots.
The union will represent graduate assistants, research assistants and teaching assistants paid via stipends, said Amanda Beavin, a graduate assistant. She told Inside Higher Ed that graduate employees who are paid hourly aren’t included but are “actively organizing” in what would be a different bargaining unit.
In a news release, the union said graduate workers have cited low pay, high workloads, poor health-care benefits and lack of support for international and marginalized employees.
“This win sets an important precedent for our relationship with the administration, giving us a voice in our working conditions,” said Nathan Pérez-Espitia, another graduate assistant, in the release. “Over time, I’m confident that it will make Syracuse University a better place to learn and work.”
Gretchen Ritter, Syracuse’s provost and chief academic officer, said in a statement that the union will represent 1,124 graduate students.
“We will negotiate in the spirit of partnership and respect that have been the hallmarks of our labor-management relationships to date,” Ritter wrote. “In the meantime, we remain committed to ensuring a positive, rewarding and successful experience for all our graduate students. Finally, I want to thank our graduate students, union representatives and all members of our community for engaging in a constructive and respectful union election.”