Washington University Grad Students Seek Union Vote

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Some graduate student workers at Washington University in St. Louis say they’ll be filing for a unionization vote on Friday.

Lucky Santino is one of them, “The university refuses to see us as workers, even though we grade for their courses and do research that gives the university prestige and gives them lucrative grants.”

Washington University professor Angela Miller spoke at a grad student-led rally, Thursday, on campus. She expressed faculty support for the union vote.

“Education is about training minds, not building luxury facilities. People before buildings,” Miller said.

Washington University sent KMOX News a response to the call for unionization. It reads in part, “We have a long history of strong collaboration with our graduate students on issues that are important to them and have made many significant enhancements as a result of their feedback. We are committed to continuing that tradition and engaging in a thoughtful discussion with our community.” (see below for entire statement)

Organizers of the rally say they are working with SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 1, which pledges to fight for a voice on the job, higher pay, better health insurance, and job security.

They say graduate workers at Loyola, Tufts, Brandeis, and American universities have all gained union representation over the past six months.

Here is the full text of Washington University’s statement:

“We recognize and respect the right of our students to peacefully gather on campus to voice their opinions. We strongly encourage all members of our community to become educated on the issue of graduate student unionization. We believe that graduate students are first and foremost students. We have a long history of strong collaboration with our graduate students on issues that are important to them and have made many significant enhancements as a result of their feedback. We are committed to continuing that tradition and engaging in a thoughtful discussion with our community.”

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