The Boston College Graduate Employees Union (BCGEU-UAW) held a rally to BC to respect its vote to establish collective bargaining rights with the University and drop its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board to invalidate the election. As of Wednesday morning, 262 graduate students had signed a petition, which the union plans to deliver to BC at some point in the future.
Tensions ran high Tuesday morning on O’Neill Plaza, as about 40 union members implored the University to respect their vote.
“You don’t have the right to protest here, but you have the right to do it outside the gates just like we’ve done with other unions,” said Richard DeCapua, the associate dean for student conduct, at the rally.
He warned that while BC would not stop the union from rallying Tuesday, there could potentially be consequences because of the gathering, which was unsanctioned because the union is not affiliated with BC, he said.
“BC agrees that the election is fair and democratic but maintains their appeal to the D.C. NLRB.” said Victoria Gabriele, a second-year Ph.D. student in physics. “They are refusing to accept our vote.”
The union argues that BC should stop its appeal to the NLRB and assist them in the process of creating collective bargaining rights at BC. Gabriele pointed to the fact that doing so is ethically and morally justifiable, since the University would exemplify its Jesuit mission and “men and women for others” ideology.
Members of the union believe that establishing these rights for graduate students provides them with better health benefits, an effective family leave policy, a more strict sexual harassment code of conduct, and a variety of other benefits. Doing so will allow them to focus on their studies while also balancing their personal lives and having more stable personal finances.
The rally particularly highlighted the fact that graduate students have a double identity at BC as both students and workers. Prasannan Parthasarathi, the director of graduate studies in the history department, argued that they are students who also work extremely hard as workers contributing to the mission of the University. He further stated that the BC administration must recognize graduate students’ work as researchers, research assistants, teaching assistants, and teaching fellows.
“Our responsibility is to be humans first, not looking at the bottom line.” Parthasarathi said. “I urge our administration to listen to your voices, to take your concerns [into consideration], and allow a union to happen.”
Correction: Due to a miscommunication by the union, a previous version of this article and its headline said they had delivered a petition to the University. They have in fact not yet delivered the petition.
Featured Image by Cole Dady / Heights Staff