After a threat to their health insurance and the tumult of on-campus protests in the fall, the National Education Association-affiliated Coalition of Graduate Workers at the University of Missouri at Columbia voted to form a union this week. About 30 percent of 2,600 eligible graduate student assistants participated, with 84 percent favoring a union, according the Columbia Daily Tribune. The union maintains that the process met all federal and state standards but it has yet to be recognized by the university. Interim campus Chancellor Hank Foley questioned the validity of the union in an April 8 email to students and faculty.
In an interview with the Daily Tribune, Foley referred to the vote as a “straw poll more than an official tally,” and said that formal union recognition and students' employee status was a matter to be settled by the courts. In his campus email, he promised “an educational campaign to ensure that all graduate students impacted by this decision will be knowledgeable about what this means,” in the event of a successful vote.