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Penn State Graduate Students Elect Not To Unionize

Penn State graduate students on assistantships and traineeships have voted not to unionize after preliminary election results were announced Tuesday.

1,438 of the 3,800 eligible graduate students voted “No” in response to possible unionization, while 950 voted “Yes.”

The Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE), which started its campaign to unionize in January of 2017, attempted to join more than 30 public and private universities with graduate student unions.

“We are disappointed about the outcome,” said Jerome Clarke, co-president of CGE. “We’ve been working toward a union for years and our conversations with folks indicated to us that graduate assistants wanted a union. Unfortunately, the Graduate School’s outrageous anti-union campaign bullied and scared graduate assistants, contributing to a vote against union representation.”

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) initially ruled back in February that the students have union rights under the Pennsylvania Employee Relations Act.

In the months before mid-April’s elections, the university and CGE tussled back and forth over whether unionization is the right decision.

Penn State administrators stated the university’s perspective was that it viewed its graduate assistants as students instead of employees and that unions represent mass interest instead of protecting individuals.

“The Graduate School is pleased that many graduate students made their voices heard by voting in the election,” the university released in a statement.

“The Graduate School will continue to address areas of concern to graduate students through direct interaction and through regular coordination with the Graduate and Professional Students Association, which represents the interests of graduate and professional students throughout the University, including representation on Graduate Council, the Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees.”

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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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