The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

Student assistants ready for the bargaining table

Newly-formed CSUEU student assistant bargaining team to negotiate union’s first contract
Video still courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona/MediaVision
First-year Cal State Fullerton student Theresa Limbeek addresses the Board of Trustees as a CSUEU union representative on Tues. March 26, 2024.

The newly formed California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) student assistant bargaining team consists of 10 “Student Assistant activists” from various CSU campuses across Northern and Southern California, according to the CSUEU website. 

Students Kaily Brooks and Kelsey Pickett from San Diego State, Torrance Carpenter from Fresno State, Noah Giddens from San Francisco State, Erin Green from Sonoma State, Michael Lee-Chang from Sacramento State, Theresa Limbeek and Jacob Lott from Cal State Fullerton, Lysette Menlenez from San Bernardino State, and Azure Starr from Chico State have been elected to represent the union.

The team addressed the CSU Board of Trustees during a meeting March 26, in preparation to negotiate the first union contract for 20,000 student assistants, according to a post by CSUEU on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

Between Jan. 25 to Feb. 22, a total of 7,252 student assistants submitted electronic ballots with 7,050 voting in favor of joining the CSUEU, which secured their right to unionize, according to a story from the University Times. 

During the public comment period of the CSU board of trustees meeting, Limbeek presented issues the new undergraduate student assistant union want to see addressed, such as low pay and a lack of paid sick days and affordable parking. 

Limbeek said the team looks forward to meeting with CSU management to negotiate the first contract for the largest undergraduate student worker union in the country, according to CSUEU’s post on X.

“We hope to have your support for a fair contract that recognizes the value of our work. We hope you will live up to your mission of providing opportunities for students to build a better future for ourselves and our communities,” Limbeek said during the meeting. 

A survey was sent to students in which they voiced their greatest concerns and outlined what they want to see on their first contract. Those who filled out the survey were given the option to indicate their interest in becoming one of the candidates for the bargaining team, according to Limbeek. 

Kelsey Brown, an organizing chair of CSUEU’s chapter 311, said it will take some time before the student assistant workers are processed as members of the chapter. 

“It is really vital that, that protection [unionization] extends down to student workers because they are, in some cases, doing the jobs of staff. When we’re short-staffed here with full-time staff, a lot of times tasks of staff-level skillset fall onto students,” Brown said. “We do our best to stop that from happening, but we can’t always do that. So, I think that it is really important that students are protected and advocated for.”

Currently, chapter 311 represents staff belonging to units 2 “healthcare support,” 5 “operations support,” 7 “administrative support,” 9 “technical support” and student workers will have their own unit, according to Brown. 

Before the student assistants’ vote to unionize was finalized, chapter 311 did student outreach during its “Unity-Wednesday” tabling events with on-campus staff and faculty unions such as the California Faculty Association, Academic Professionals of California, Students for Quality Education, and the Teamsters, Brown said. 

“In our efforts, we made sure to reach out to student assistants that we knew to help get them mobilized,” Brown added. “It was just a lot of trying to do outreach as much as we could and making sure that the students knew as much as they could in order to make an informed decision when the vote happened.”

The university’s CSUEU Labor Representative, Steven Butcher said a unionized workforce is a better workforce. 

“If [student workers] come through the CSUs, and they see how important unions are and they see what they do, it’s just going to be a better world for us all. The more union workers we have, the better off we are in this world to fight back against greedy companies,” Butcher said.

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About the Contributor
Tristan Longwell
Tristan Longwell, News Editor
Tristan Longwell is the News Editor for the University Times (UT). She is a senior majoring in criminal justice, with a minor in journalism. Longwell has an interest in documentary filmmaking, creative and uncreative writing, music, fashion, true crime and all things Los Angeles.

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