Graduate students hold rally to advocate for unionizing

Graduate students hold rally to advocate for unionizing

Aviva Okeson-Haberman, MUTV 23News Interactive Director and Lauren Petterson, MUTV Social Media Director

When Sarah Senff took the microphone at Wednesday’s rally, she talked about mentoring a fellow graduate student. Senff is the Coalition of Graduate Workers Organizing and Grievance Officer. Senff said she told the graduate student where to find food assistance and how to sell your plasma to supplement your income.

“Our working conditions are undergraduates students’ learning conditions,” Co-Chair of CGW Eric Scott said.

Scott said it is difficult to focus on school-related responsibilities when graduate students are worrying about the cost of living.

A year after graduate students began the fight to keep their health insurance, the CGW held a rally calling upon graduate students to join a union.

Organizers at the rally said they want graduate students who were at the rally to join the union at the local, state and national level. Union members would be members of CGW, the Missouri National Education Association and the National Education Association. They had forms that attendees could fill out to join the union.

According to Senff, dues are $131 per year, but she said she would be willing to help people find sponsors if they could not afford the dues.

In an email to MUTV, Senff would not comment on the amount of people that have already signed up to be members of the union.

Back in April, graduate students voted in favor of unionizing.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the efforts of graduate workers to unionize made national news this week when the National Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate workers at private universities are employees, which allows graduate students to unionize.

Graduate works at MU reacted positively to the ruling in a press release, hoping that it would add more pressure to MU to recognize the right of graduate workers to unionize.

“We are not going to shut up,” Senff said at the rally. “We are going to make a lasting and long-term difference.”

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