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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

    Student Assistants Across the CSU Vote to Unionize

    Student+assistants+cheering+at+the+outcome+of+the+vote.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+CSUEU%29

    Student assistants cheering at the outcome of the vote. (Photo courtesy of CSUEU)

    Lately, unions have been a focal point in the media, as workers advocate for higher wages, more hours, cheaper parking, and other vital needs to improve student’s standard of living. 
    A new group of workers on campus will be getting union representation at CSU Stanislaus.  
    Over the last month from January 25 to February 22, student assistants across the California State University (CSU) systems have had the opportunity to vote digitally to decide if they wanted to join the CSUEU, the union which represents the non-faculty staff at all 23 CSU campuses.  
    On February 23, 2024, in what is being called a historical moment by CSUEU, the votes were counted and the answer was a yes. According to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) there were 20,007 student assistants that were eligible to vote.  
    According to the CSUEU Press Release, “A total 7252 voted by electronic ballot, with 7,050 checking YES. With a decisive 97% of voters affirming their desire for a union, the student workers left no doubt they are launching a new day at the CSU.”  
    This means that there was a 36% turn out of student assistants that voted. This vote has established CSUEU as the bargaining representation for student assistants across the entire CSU systems.  

    Some students at Stan State voted yes for the union and others didn’t vote at all. Students at Stan State seem to have positive reaction to the yes vote.  

    Katelyn Hawthorne (Senior, Creative Media) a student Assistant in the Warrior Fab Lab, was happy about the outcome of the action.  

    “A great way to use our voice. I’m excited to see where it goes,” Hawthorne said.

    This election proceeded with an effort by CSUEU to get student assistants to sign union cards and then a continued effort to get them to vote. This push was led by a committee of student assistants across the CSU systems to get student assistants union representation.

    One of those students was Colin Culver (Senior, Political Science), a student assistant at San Diego State in their Residential Education office.  

    Colin described most efforts to reach out to student assistants as a continuous grassroots effort.  Students took initiative through digital means and some in-person outreach.

    “Over the summer, a group of us, myself included, spearheaded a lot of digital organizing. So reaching out to them via emails, via social media, things like that, and then in-person I had the chance to go to CSU San Marcos,” Culver said. 

    Hawthorne described this communication from the union as scammy. 

    She shared about an example where she got a text from one of the organizers on her personal cell. 

    “’Hey Katelyn, did you sign?’, and then they will send a link. This feels like a phishing fraud,” Hawthrone said. 

    She described the online fishing scam training she has taken and that is what communication form the union felt like to her.

    On reflection, she wishes she had taken more time to read through what the union was sending her.  

    Roberto Herrera (Senior, Criminal Justice), a student assistant at KCSS, described his interaction with the organizing committee annoying at first and left him wondering how they got his cell phone number.  

    Herrera had not seen or interacted with anyone on campus representing the union. He would’ve preferred to meet with someone in-person. However, after having read the emails he decided this was something he wanted to be a part of.

    Culver says the union has a survey out to find out what student assistants want the union to bring up in negotiations.

    Roberto felt that removing the 20-hour-a-week limit was something that would sustain him financially.  As the music director, he enjoys the work he does for the radio station and would love for it to be his only job. With the cost of everything right now, he has had to pick up a second job to help pay the bills.  

    Although reaching out to and informing students about the vote was highly prioritized, students were left with a limited understanding of what a union was. 

    “I don’t know what the process of joining the union is like. Do I have to pay to get in? And I’m like, I’m just a student. I don’t know how much it’s gonna to be. I just feel very out of the loop,” Hawthrone said.  

    On March 22nd, a general meeting will be held, hosting an open space for students to ask questions.

    You can learn more about the union and its efforts to help student assistants by checking out CSUEU website.  

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    Student Assistants Across the CSU Vote to Unionize