grad students

Grad student rally
Anne Danahy / WPSU

After years of organizing, Penn State graduate student employees have begun casting their ballots on whether or not to unionize. 

As voting began Tuesday, graduate employees and supporters rallied outside Old Main, the university administration building.

“I think there’s a lot of energy here and it’s really inspiring,” said Nick Dietrich, a doctoral student in political science.

He thinks grad students contribute a lot to the university and deserve a say in working conditions.

In a nearby building, grad students were casting their ballots.

Grad student rally
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Penn State graduate assistants are scheduled to vote on unionizing in April.

But not if grad student Michael Cronin can help it.

Cronin filed a motion to intervene with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. He got help from the conservative-leaning organization, The Fairness Center. Communications director Conner Drigotas said Cronin felt it was important to make his voice heard.

Grad student rally
Anne Danahy / WPSU

A group of graduate students at Penn State was hard at work.

They weren't getting ready for an exam or preparing a paper for a conference. Instead, they were making signs and strategizing. Their goal is to unionize graduate assistants who work for Penn State.

Garret Ducharme is working toward a PhD in physics. He wants to see a union.

“I’ve noticed a lot of problems in my department, things like unequal pay, unequal teaching responsibilities, unequal work responsibilities among graduate students,” Ducharme said.