U of M campaign to unionize graduate workers voted down

It's a dark day for proponents of the University of Minnesota's campaign to unionize graduate student workers.

After a long and arduous push, students voted against forming a union last week, according to the college's Office of Human Resources. In total, 2,999 votes were cast across the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses. Of those, 1,142 voted for the union, and 1,857 against it.

"Obviously, the results are disappointing," says Scott Thaller, a research assistant in the college's physics department involved in the union push. Graduate students in favor of the effort have long argued that forming a union is necessary in negotiating fair contracts, which is why they teamed up with the United Auto Workers this year to organize a vote.

"I was proud of everyone who participated in this unionization campaign," says Thaller. "I thought they did a good job, and I'm happy that people were up there raising this issue."

This is the second time in the past decade the U of M has put unionizing to a vote. In 2004, students joined up with the Electrical Workers Union to organize an election, but the effort was voted down then as well.

As proved by this week's poll results, the campaign to unionize has plenty of critics. On its website, the opposing student group, "Graduate Students Against GWSU," rejects the need for a union, arguing it's simply "not a good fit" for the U of M.

"In short, union supporters have not been able to provide a real list of grievances that cannot be addressed through existing channels within the University," reads the introduction to the website.

Those opponents have been celebrating since the news broke. A few choice comments from the group's Facebook page:

Katherine Volzing AWESOME!
Ian Ramsay Remember that one time when we were supposed to recognize GSWU's "strong majority?"

Whether this is actually the end of the push to unionize remains to be seen.

"As for a next step, you know, I don't know," says Thaller. "Its obviously still fairly recent. We're going to be reflecting and assessing."

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