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Graduate assistants at Fordham University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences voted, 229 to 15, to form a union affiliated with the Communication Workers of America, they announced Thursday. The new union’s first contract goals include formal grievance structures, pandemic-related funding extensions, protections for international students, better pay and comprehensive health care and childcare accommodations. Starting pay for graduate assistants is about $26,000 per year, according to the union. A majority of graduate assistants in the school signed cards in favor of unionization and sought voluntary recognition from Fordham prior to the election. (Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included an error in the vote count figures, due to inaccurate information in a written union announcement.)

The university said in a statement that it is “pleased that the process played out fairly: we accept the results of the vote and respect the student workers’ decision. We are proud of members of the university community who engaged in respectful and constructive conversation with one another and with the administration.” Contract negotiations are likely to begin in the coming months, and Fordham said it’s “committed to working with the union and its members in good faith.”