Graduate Students Make Their Case For Unionizing

Sep 11, 2017

The Old Main administrative building at Penn State, where graduate students are trying to unionize.
Credit WPSU

Whether graduate assistants at Penn State can vote on unionizing has been the focus of hearings the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board is holding in State College. The hearings are scheduled to end Wednesday.

Liana Glew is a graduate assistant in the English Department at Penn State and record keeper for the Coalition of Graduate Employees. She wants to make the university a better place for all graduate employees.

“I hope to see the university recognize the hard work that we do, the labor that we perform for the university, how vital graduate employees are to making this university run and, subsequently, let us vote on a union,” Glew said.

Glew was among those testifying before the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. The question: whether university graduate students should be able to vote on unionizing. Graduate assistant organizers say yes, while the university says no to unionized grad students.

Provost Nick Jones said that the university respects the process.

“I think, first and foremost, we consider our graduate students to be students,” Jones said. “They are here to get an education, and that really is the basis of our position.”

While there is no time limit for the Labor Relations Board to make a decision, they said representation cases are viewed as “high priority.”