Georgetown Graduate Students Successfully Unionize

The respective fates of the graduate student unions at Boston College and Georgetown University diverged even further on Friday morning. Georgetown graduate students voted 555-108 in favor of unionization to complete the final step toward recognition and official unionization, according to a joint statement released by the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE), which is partnered with the American Federation of Teachers, and the Georgetown administration.

The election, which ran from Monday to Thursday last week, came after Georgetown voluntarily entered into an election agreement with its union, becoming the second Jesuit university, after Fordham University, to do so.

“We have a shared belief in the important role that graduate student assistants play at Georgetown and a shared commitment to giving them a stronger voice as members of our community,” the joint statement said. “We are encouraged that many graduate student assistants made their voices heard. We look forward to working together to continue efforts to improve the graduate student experience at Georgetown.”

Unlike its Georgetown counterpart, the Boston College Graduate Employees Union (BCGEU-UAW) already held an election to unionize prior to establishing bargaining rights, which passed, 270-244, in September 2017. Shortly afterward, the University appealed the result to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Georgetown’s decision to voluntarily enter into collective bargaining represents a split from BC. The graduate student union at BC withdrew its petition to the NLRB in February on account of fears that the board would rule against it, which would have set a nationwide precedent that would limit the rights of student unions throughout the country. Since then, the University has refused to independently recognize the union, citing Jesuit values and preserving the professor-student relationship it believes is vitally important to BC’s graduate education.

BC’s union has continued to pressure the University into recognizing it, most recently by demonstrating at an address by University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. over Parent’s Weekend, and picketing Pops on the Heights, a major fundraising event that attracts BC’s largest donors.

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Jack is the associate investigative editor for The Heights. You can find him on Twitter @millerjack_, which is the best he can do for such a common name.