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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Research Assistant Allowed Union Will Vote for Formation

    The National Labor Relations Board recently recognized the Stony Brook Research Assistants as employees entitled to union benefits.

    The research assistants want to form a union in the hopes of creating a unified voice. A union would allow the students to increase employee benefits such as health insurance and cost-of-living allocations, lowering mandatory fees, and establishing a system of grievances. The campus research assistants will be voting on Dec. 5 to decide whether to go ahead with the formation of a union.

    The Union would provide them an opportunity to voice and protect both the individual and collective interests of the assistants, according to www.sbraunion.org, the group’s website. Some benefits that the research assistants would receive include a pay raise that will bring them to about the same average pay as research assistant at other universities.

    They will also receive job security and a grievance system to address employment and workplace issues. “I think that having a union would mean to me that we would have some structure and rules that would insure us fairness, treating everyone with the same respect,” said Zosia Turek, a research assistant in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

    Support for the Union is widespread, as seen on the union’s web page including letters of support from 10 New York State Assemblymen, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and Congressman Tim Bishop.

    So far 250 Research Assistants have called upon SUNY and the Research Foundation to allow them to form a union.

    The university has not discouraged the formation of the union according to Turek. Calls made to the President’s office were not returned.

    However, the Research Foundation has sent out emails discouraging the Research Assistants from unionizing. “The research foundation keeps emailing me why I shouldn’t be voting for the union,” said Turek, “I believe that they are just employing this regular strategies of union busting”

    “My reason why I want this union, is being an RA I think we are entitled to have our own organization our own union so that we can have a voice on behalf of the research community on campus,” said Xiao Xu, a research assistant who spoke at the union press conference on Sept. 15.

    The expectations of the Research Assistants passing the union come Dec. 5, are high, and when asked what would happen after the union was passed, Turek sais. “We will try to create a contract that will represent everyone’s interest, and we will not pass the contract unless everyone votes yes for it,” said Turek.

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