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GPSA Releases Statement On PLRB Graduate Student Unionization Ruling

Following Friday night’s ruling from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board that Penn State’s graduate assistants have union rights under the Pennsylvania Employee Relations Act, Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) released a statement expressing support for the students rights to hold a union election.

GPSA, the university’s graduate student government, is not stating that it’s for or against unionization.

“Every eligible graduate assistant should vote, but more importantly, every eligible graduate assistant should make a well-informed decision,” GPSA released in its statement. “GPSA will not encourage students to vote either for or against unionizing, but we do encourage students to share thoughts and opinions with one another in order to foster meaningful dialogue surrounding this topic.”

The Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) first filed for union representation in February 2017 after launching two years earlier for the purpose of improving working conditions for graduate assistants. Friday’s ruling came after a week-long hearing held in September.

“GPSA hopes that the University will accept the PLRB’s ruling without further legal challenges, and we continue to support graduate assistants’ right to democratically decide whether or not to form a union at Penn State.”

The university said in a statement that it “will continue to follow the PLRB process, however, we are disappointed by the decision and are evaluating all our options going forward.”

No union election date has been set. You can read the full GPSA statement below:

On Friday, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board released its decision that Penn State graduate assistants – including teaching assistants, research assistants, administrative support assistants, and trainees – are considered employees under the Public Employee Relations Act, and therefore have the right to bargain collectively regarding wages, hours, and working conditions.

GPSA hopes that the University will accept the PLRB’s ruling without further legal challenges, and we continue to support graduate assistants’ right to democratically decide whether or not to form a union at Penn State. It is now every graduate assistant’s responsibility to do their own research about the unionization process and the potential benefits and drawbacks of graduate assistant unionization. Every eligible graduate assistant should vote, but more importantly, every eligible graduate assistant should make a well-informed decision. GPSA will not encourage students to vote either for or against unionizing, but we do encourage students to share thoughts and opinions with one another in order to foster meaningful dialogue surrounding this topic.

We will continue to provide updates as more information comes out related to the voting procedure and the date of the election.

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Steve Connelly is a senior majoring in PR and an editor for Onward State. He is a proud native of the state of New Jersey, and yes, he is literal trash. He is a soccer fan, nap enthusiast, and chicken tender connoisseur. He tries to be a photographer sometimes despite one of his photos inspiring the name of his future sports bar, the Blurry Zamboni. You can follow him on Twitter @slc2o (feel free to slide), email him at [email protected], or come say hi to him in his office, the Irving's basement.

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