BC Graduate Employees Union Must Seek Consensus

Graduate student employees at Boston College voted to officially form a union and establish collective bargaining rights with the University on Wednesday. The Boston College Graduate Employees Union – United Auto Workers will represent the 778 graduate student employees that were eligible to vote in the election.

The final vote count was 270 votes in favor and 224 against, a voter participation rate of just under two-thirds. Such a close margin comes as a surprise considering that there was far less vocalized opposition to the formation of a union than expressed support in the weeks leading up to the election. Nonetheless, the vote passed, and now the BCGEU – UAW will need to find a way to work with those that voted against unionization moving forward.

Because only about one-third of the 778 students that the union will represent voted for its creation, finding compromise and considering the opinions of dissenters will be essential for the union’s success. Strong supporters of the union will need to reach across the aisle in order to accomplish their agenda.

The union has the potential to improve the lives of graduate student employees at the University, but only if it considers the desires and concerns of all of its constituents, and not just those that pushed for the formation of the union in the first place.

In the past, expressed opposition to the union has been met with intense backlash. An anti-union op-ed published in The Heights garnered criticism in the days leading up to vote, especially on Facebook, by those in favor of establishing collective bargaining rights.

Conversation within the union between those with opposing opinions will be necessary to ensure that the organization fairly represents all of its members, and not just those who have been a part of the process from the beginning. The union should reach out to those that voted against its formation, and those who abstained from voting in the NLRB election, to establish constructive relationships that will help bring about consensus in the future.

Featured Image by Meg Dolan / Heights Editor

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