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The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

CSU student assistants win union vote, with more than 20,000 voting to join the CSUEU

CSU+student+assistants+win+union+vote+to+join+the+CSUEU.
Anne To
CSU student assistants win union vote to join the CSUEU.

After a month of casting ballots and years of organizing a union vote, student assistants across the California State University system have won the right to unionize alongside the California State University Employees Union with 97% voting in favor of the alliance. 

A total of 7,252 student assistants submitted electronic ballots from Jan. 25 to Feb. 22, with 7,050 voting in favor of joining, according to the California Public Employment Relations Board

The win means that more than 20,000 students across the CSU, the country’s largest four-year university system, will join the current 16,000 staff members of the CSUEU, making this the largest union of undergrad student workers in history.

As an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a labor union representing 2 million workers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, the news was commended by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry on X (formerly known as Twitter), who has served as president for the last 14 years. Henry spoke at last week’s CSUEU Zoom debriefing, where dozens of student assistants, union representatives, and other supporters from across the CSU got together for the home stretch. 

“I look forward to celebrating with all of you, to backing CSUEU, and to help you fight for fair wages, parking, and [sick] leave and to organize more student assistants throughout California,” Henry said. “You are going to transform education, and you’re going to help us build the power we need to uproot structural racism, to challenge corporate power, to create education equity for everybody in this country.”

What’s next?

The next step in the process is to hold a bargaining survey where students will provide feedback on their highest priority issues, giving union representatives a better idea of where to start. 

Once a conclusion is reached, the union will elect a bargaining team to present their demands to the CSU Board of Trustees where they will negotiate their first contract. Once a tentative agreement is reached, the union must ratify the contract to solidify any new labor agreements. As of now, there is no detailed timeline as to when those steps will happen. 

CSUEU President Catherine Hutchinson said that student assistants carry a huge responsibility, taking on many of the same tasks that full-time university staff do, without the benefits, pay, or protections.

“Students like yourself have been left out of the conversation, and we see you struggle,” Hutchinson said to attendees. “At the same time, you’re at every campus, and your work helps us function. If we didn’t have you to serve in each and every department, then we wouldn’t be able to provide other students with the services needed.”

CSUEU Organizer Emily Hake is a former student assistant who helped spearhead the movement. Her four years working as an assistant at CSU Stanislaus gave her a personal understanding of how unionization could benefit thousands of students across the state.

“Student assistants right now are the last workers in the CSU system who do not have a union,” Hake said addressing attendees. “Everyone else is unionized except for you all, so when all of you are organized together alongside the CSUEU, this means that we’re all going to have a strong seat at the table.”

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About the Contributors
Marcos Franco, Managing Editor
Marcos is a journalism major who focuses on news coverage of underreported people, communities and nonprofits on the Eastside and South L.A. He also has experience in entertainment reporting and freelances for local news outlets.
Anne To, Editor-In-Chief
Anne To is the Editor in Chief of the UT and also the co-Station manager of the Golden Eagle Radio. She loves working on audio production with radio, podcasting, and more! You may have seen some of her comics with the Life of Biffy series. During her free time she is either taking a nap, or playing video games.  
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