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Penn State Graduate Assistant Files Motion To Stop Graduate Union Election

While the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) continues to forge ahead in preparation for the upcoming graduate student union elections, graduate assistant Michael Cronin is hoping to put the potential unionization to a halt with the help of The Fairness Center.

This comes two months after the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) ruled that graduate students on assistantships or traineeships have the right to unionize. Elections are tentatively scheduled for mid-April.

The self-described nonprofit public interest law firm “offering free legal services to those hurt by public employee union officials” will take up Cronin’s case on the basis that he has not consented to union representation.

Cronin, who is a doctoral student in Energy and Mechanical Engineering expecting to graduate in 2020, said in an affidavit filed with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) he receives a monthly stipend, health insurance, and paid tuition and fees, adding that he if were in it to earn money as an employee, he would have done something different.

“The duties I perform as a function of my service as a graduate assistant are primarily educational and train me for a future career,” Cronin wrote in the affidavit.

Following the affidavit that was filed last week, CGE filed a response to combat Cronin’s claims, saying that his right to oppose unionization is maintained through the ability to vote in the upcoming election.

“The Fairness Center exists solely to attack unions, to harm and disenfranchise working Pennsylvanians, and to ensure that the only Americans with a voice are the wealthy,” CGE co-president Jerome Clarke said in a statement. “They’re using the same legal arguments that Penn State used to oppose our union because they don’t want graduate assistants to have a voice in our university community.”

“We are confident that this legal challenge will not hinder our democratic vote,” CGE co-president Harrison Cole added.

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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