[Marxism] Stony Brook research assistants vote to unionize]
rjacobs3625 at charter.net
Mon Dec 8 06:05:14 MST 2008
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Stony Brook research assistants vote to unionize
BY ANDREW STRICKLER
andrew.strickler at newsday.com
December 7, 2008
Research assistants at Stony Brook University have voted to unionize
after a nine-month campaign that organizers called the largest union
drive on Long Island in recent memory.
In a vote of 214-135 tallied Friday evening, the research assistants -
all doctoral students - decided to join Local 1104 of the Communications
Workers of America. There are about 745 research assistants at Stony
Brook, organizers said.
The union already represents the university's teaching and graduate
Organizers of the effort said they hope the union will help them
negotiate waivers of transportation and technology fees that total about
$500 each semester, fees that are waived partially or in full for
graduate and teaching assistants.
"It doesn't sound like a big deal, but for a lot of RAs making $20,000 a
year, $1,000 is a lot," said Matt Engle, 26, a biology research
assistant and a student organizer. Engle said he and other assistants
also hope to gain improved health benefits and to negotiate a pay increase.
"Basically, there has never been a negotiated raise for RAs ever," he said.
Calls to the SUNY Research Foundation, which employs the RAs, were not
returned yesterday. The foundation has argued that a union would create
hiring delays and could discourage sponsors of research projects.
Mark Sokolowski, 33, a research assistant in the School of Marine and
Atmospheric Sciences, said many international students who are RAs
supported the effort in the hope that a union would help protect their
rights to be away from work between semesters, when many visit distant
Sokolowski, who worked to gather union support, said he believes much of
the resistance from "no" voters was based on the belief that the union
would push for a single wage for assistants, potentially driving down
salaries for higher-paid positions.
"We would like to see that people get paid a minimum ... but I would
encourage any RA to vote no on a contract that doesn't see their
position improve," he said.
Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.
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