Cornell University graduate student workers have voted 1,873 to 80 to unionize, the National Labor Relations Board announced last week. There were about 3,175 eligible voters, the NLRB said.
The new union—Cornell Graduate Students United, affiliated with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)—will represent all master’s and doctoral students at the Ithaca, Cornell Tech (Roosevelt Island) and Geneva campuses who are teaching assistants, research assistants, graduate assistants or graduate research assistants.
Valentina Luketa, UE’s national coordinator for higher education, said there was a failed attempt in 2017 to unionize Cornell’s grad workers. Now, they are among 28,000 grad workers who have joined UE in the last year and a half, she said Friday, “part of the wave of the graduate workers unionizing across the country.”
Luketa said the Cornell grad workers’ demands include, among other things, higher pay, expanded dental and vision benefits, and the elimination of international student fees.
In an emailed statement Friday, Joel M. Malina, Cornell’s vice president for university relations, said, “Throughout this process, our priority was ensuring that graduate assistants had a voice through voting. Cornell has long-standing relationships with several other bargaining units on campus, and we now welcome the opportunity to build a relationship with UE. We look forward to negotiating a collective bargaining agreement that reflects Cornell’s values and addresses the needs of our students.”