GradSOC reaches

Members of the Graduate Student Organizing Congress spent the last six months laboriously visiting graduate assistant offices and phone banking to gather signatures for a union election.
Today, the drive ends and the signatures will be handed in to the state Bureau of Mediation Services via a big yellow bus.
GradSOC needs signatures from at least 30 percent of eligible graduate assistants to obtain a union vote. However, their goal was to get more than 50 percent of their colleagues to sign cards — a goal GradSOC leaders say they’ve met.
Although the signatures haven’t been officially counted yet, last week more than 50 percent of graduate assistants had signed a card, said Andrew Seligsohn, a GradSOC steering committee member.
“We have an excellent chance to win an election,” Seligsohn said.
When GradSOC turns in the signatures today, BMS officials will start to verify the signatures to ensure they are all signed by graduate assistants — teaching and research assistants at the University. They will then determine if there is enough support to hold a union election, which would be sometime during spring quarter.
To obtain a collective bargaining unit, 50 percent plus one would have to vote in favor of a union. If graduate assistants vote for a union, GradSOC will then start bargaining with the University to establish a contract.
GradSOC hopes a union will increase wages, improve the health plan and put a cap on student fees. Although an official platform hasn’t been established yet, Seligsohn said when an election is set, GradSOC will begin talking with graduate assistants.

— Kelly Hildebrandt