Boston – Led by State Senator Jamie Eldridge, a coalition of community, faith and labor leaders will deliver a petition signed by a majority of Boston College Graduate Student Employees, as well as more than 3,000 community, religious and political allies, to BC’s President Father Leahy Friday morning.
The petition calls on Father Leahy and the Boston College Trustees to drop all discipline against graduate workers for union activity on campus and respect the majority vote for a union by bargaining with the union.
Graduate student workers voted in favor of their union – the Boston College Graduate Employee Union UAW (BCGEU-UAW) – in September 2017. Boston College has since refused to bargain despite BCGEU’s attempts to meet with the BC administration every day for an entire semester.
When the union took their message to the broader Boston College community by leafletting Parents Weekend, BC administrators responded by disciplining 16 union members for exercising their free speech and workers’ rights.
“By choosing to punish us instead of bargaining, the BC administration is not only going against our democratic choice to have a union, they are going against Jesuit values that call for respecting the dignity of work and the rights of workers. We’d expect better from any university, but especially so for a university with the religious mission that BC has,” said Fraser Binns, a Ph.D. student and graduate worker in BC’s Mathematics Department.
Boston College’s actions are increasingly out of step with a national movement of academic workers to be in unions. There are currently ten private universities that have agreed to recognize and bargain with graduate worker unions on their campus, including Harvard, Tufts, and Brandeis in the Boston area, and Georgetown, another Jesuit University.
“One of the main reasons I was so motivated to attend Boston College Law School is because as a Jesuit school, Boston College has a strong commitment to social justice,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), BCLS Class of 2000, who was President of BC Law’s Public Interest Law Foundation for two years. “I was fortunate enough to be educated by professors, and guided by administrators, who were strongly committed to combating inequality in America, including some teachers who were Jesuit priests. So, it’s incredibly disappointing that this administration has decided to use a technicality to discipline graduate workers for wanting fair compensation for their hard work and recognition to collectively bargain. These workers won’t back down, and neither will their allies in the struggle for better working conditions and a more powerful voice in their workplace,” Eldridge added.
The delegation to deliver the petition include State Senator and Boston College Law School Alum Jamie Eldridge; Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Greater Boston Central Labor Council, Rich Rogers; MA AFL-CIO Legislative Director, John Drinkwater; Co-Director MA Jobs with Justice, Lily Huang; MA Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice Member, Sarah Kelley; Robert Bower, Community Labor United; and Sister Tess Browne, S.C.N.
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