General Membership Assembly Notice — September 10, 2016

General Membership Assembly Notice

The Coalition of Graduate Workers will hold its first General Membership Assembly of the 2016-17 academic year on Saturday, September 24th, at 10:30 AM in Swallow Hall 101.

All graduate student employees are encouraged to attend. Voting is reserved to dues-paying local members.

The meeting agenda and supplementary materials are linked as follows:

In solidarity,

Connor Lewis and Eric Scott

Co-Chairs, Coalition of Graduate Workers

chairs@cgwmissouri.org

 

CGW PRESS RELEASE ON NLRB DECISION — August 23, 2016

CGW PRESS RELEASE ON NLRB DECISION

CGW HAILS LANDMARK NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD RULING, CALLS FOR UNIVERSITY RECOGNITION

For immediate release
August 23, 2016
Press Contact: Joseph Moore (732) 948-5718

Today the National Labor Relations Board issued a 3-1 decision overturning the partisan Bush-era Brown decision, which stripped graduate student employees at private universities of their right to organize into a union of their choice, and their right to bargain collectively.

In their decision, the National Labor Relations Board decided that student assistants are statutory employees, forcefully stating that “Statutory coverage is permitted by virtue of an employment relationship,” and further rejecting that a student relationship has bearing upon employee rights.

“This is a victory for graduate student employees across the United States, and for all working Americans within the labor movement,” said Connor Lewis, co-chair of the Coalition of Graduate Workers. “We congratulate organizing campaigns at private universities across the United States on their hard work to improve the lives of graduate student employees.”

“In light of this ironclad, national precedent in favor of graduate student employee organizing, we call on the University of Missouri to end their legal battle to block graduate student employee unionization,” said Eric Scott, fellow co-chair of the Coalition. “Recognizing the fair and democratic results of April 2016’s representation election and avoiding further waste of public funds is the right thing to do, and we trust the University will make the right decision.”

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The Coalition of Graduate Workers is an affiliate of the Missouri National Education Association, the leading union for Missouri educators, and represents the 2,700 graduate employees at the University of Missouri.

CGW/FGR Statement on Review Commission Appointees — June 29, 2016

CGW/FGR Statement on Review Commission Appointees

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 29, 2016

Press Contacts
CGW: Joseph Moore, (732) 948-5718
FGR: Anahita Zare, (407) 697-3693

On Wednesday, Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson announced his hand-picked appointees to the University of Missouri Independent Review Commission, finalizing the commission’s composition. This announcement follows Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard’s appointments, which included former Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence, conservative pundit Renee Hulshof (wife of former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof), and multiple appointees with deep financial and political ties to the Missouri Republican Party, Ron Richard, and Kurt Schaefer’s own political campaigns.

Today’s appointments include Jeanne Sinquefield, wife of Republican megadonor and far-right conservative billionaire Rex Sinquefield. Sinquefield’s extreme political agenda has aggressively pushed anti-worker initiatives and attacks on public educational institutions across the state. Furthermore, Sinquefield bankrolls Republican candidates across Missouri, including Kurt Schaefer, whose bullying and scorched earth political tactics have helped create the very crisis from which he now seeks to “save” the University of Missouri System.

These partisan appointees make the Commission’s aim clear: to reshape the University of Missouri in the image of extremists in the Missouri Legislature, as enacted by political operatives and megadonors whose ties to the Missouri Republican Party and special interests run deeper than their commitment to providing Missourians with high quality and affordable higher education. Already Republican leadership has warned that the commission’s recommendations must be followed, or else the University will face severe cuts to its appropriations. The implication is clear: the review will not seek to support an independent institution founded on freedom of inquiry and a public, land-grant mission. It will instead demand a University that bows to the whims of the Republican supermajority.

The Coalition of Graduate Workers and the Forum on Graduate Rights condemn the Republican supermajority’s political threats against the University of Missouri, particularly the threat to slash funding if their agenda is not enacted, and jointly call on all Missourians who support and love the University of Missouri to oppose these threats. Missouri families and working Missourians deserve access to world-class and affordable higher education. Although the Commission claims to serve this goal, in reality, it will only bludgeon our University into following a partisan agenda.

Signed,

Coordinating Committee, Coalition of Graduate Workers

Steering Committee, Forum on Graduate Rights

The Coalition of Graduate Workers is a union local affiliated with the Missouri National Education Association. It represents 2,700 graduate student employees at the University of Missouri flagship campus.

The Forum on Graduate Rights is a grassroots movement founded to advocate for the rights of graduate and professional students at the University of Missouri.

CGW STATEMENT ON BUDGET CUTS — June 16, 2016

CGW STATEMENT ON BUDGET CUTS

On Sunday, the Columbia Tribune published a story regarding two married faculty in the Theater Department who were terminated without notice at the close of the spring semester, in accordance with the administration’s mandate for 5% cutbacks on a College and Division level. In one day, their entire household income was eliminated.

It is clear that the University faces significant budgetary problems that are beyond the ability of current resources to absorb: a reality made worse by partisan attacks on the University’s budget and autonomy. However, it has become a troubling pattern that those that suffer from cuts are inevitably those that are the most vulnerable, particularly non-tenure track faculty, staff, and graduate student employees. Sunday’s story was a visceral reminder of the human toll of slashed budgets.

Passing the pain of austerity to the most vulnerable employees of the University while administrators allocate University resources toward retreats at luxury hotels and resorts, as reported by the Columbia Tribune, is unacceptable and indefensible. Firing support staff while former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin continues to collect a substantial salary for vague and undefined job duties, as reported by both the Columbia Tribune and Columbia Missourian, is unacceptable and indefensible. Eliminating non-tenure track faculty positions while administrative pay continues to rise and administrators face few or no cuts, as reported Sunday by the Columbia Tribune, is unacceptable and indefensible.

Accordingly, the Coalition of Graduate Workers will begin building an advocacy campaign on behalf of the staff, non-tenure track faculty, and graduate student employees who are disproportionately impacted by budget cuts.

Signed,
Coordinating Committee
Coalition of Graduate Workers

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI REJECTS UNION RECOGNITION — May 6, 2016

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI REJECTS UNION RECOGNITION

NEWS RELEASE
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI REJECTS UNION RECOGNITION
From the Coalition of Graduate Workers

For more information: chairs@cgwmissouri.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6th, 2016

Today, the Coalition of Graduate Workers received formal notice from the University of Missouri System via their retained attorney that they have chosen to reject recognition of the April 18th and 19th representation election results. Accordingly, we will turn to the courts to uphold our constitutional right to organize and collectively bargain.

We are disappointed that the University of Missouri System demonstrated yet another failure of leadership. By forcing an expensive court battle, rather than exercising their power to voluntarily recognize the representation election’s results, the Curators and University System administrators have failed to responsibly steward the public institution with which they have been entrusted. Missourians expect and deserve better.

We will continue to offer the University of Missouri System the opportunity, whenever possible, to do the right thing through choosing to work with graduate student employees in partnership. It is our sincere hope that they will do so, instead of dragging the University of Missouri into another year of turmoil.

The Coalition of Graduate Workers is a union local affiliated to the Missouri National Education Association and the National Education Association. It is the exclusive representative of the 2,800 graduate student employees at the University of Missouri.
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General Membership Assembly Notice — April 23, 2016

General Membership Assembly Notice

The Coalition of Graduate Workers will be holding its first General Membership Assembly Meeting on Saturday, May 7th, at 12:00 PM in Tate 102.

All graduate student employees are encouraged to attend. Voting is reserved to dues-paying members.

Meeting agenda and supplementary materials are linked as follows.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zGCrSErF3EPBJUQhPE2O2WiYXxNtSuL-btsUuV8D2GQ/edit?usp=sharing

https://docs.google.com/document/d/14DICABioEvP9TQpaYhDDYWflNeNfo7_kAlQWsXmeJ-g/edit?usp=sharing

Regards,
Connor Lewis
Co-Chair, CGW

 

GRAD WORKERS WIN ELECTION — April 19, 2016

GRAD WORKERS WIN ELECTION

NEWS RELEASE
CGW WINS UNION REPRESENTATION ELECTION
From the Coalition of Graduate Workers

For more information:
organizemizzou@gmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19th, 2016

We are gratified and humbled by the results of Monday and Tuesday’s representative election, in which approximately 84% of votes were cast in favor of the Coalition of Graduate Workers acting as the exclusive representative of graduate student employees for the purpose of collective bargaining.

This result is in spite of eleventh hour voter intimidation by the University of Missouri administration, and it unequivocally demonstrates that graduate student employees will not accept the status quo. It is also the culmination of an academic year of tireless organizing during which the graduate student employees of the University of Missouri have provided inspiration to universities across the United States. If the University of Missouri is to move forward, it will be due in no small part to the resolute desire of graduate students to make the University of Missouri a better institution of higher education.

The recent election, conducted by a neutral third party, fulfilled state and federal best practices for a representation election, and further fulfilled all of the criteria for the high standards of American democratic self-determination. Thus, we view the results as a clear mandate in favor of graduate student employee collective bargaining, and we call for the administration of the University of Missouri to duly recognize these democratic results.

We look forward to building a broadly representative bargaining team, and to beginning contract negotiations with the University.

The Coalition of Graduate Workers is a union local affiliated to the Missouri National Education Association and the National Education Association. It is the exclusive representative of the 2,800 graduate student employees at the University of Missouri.

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GRADUATE WORKERS RESPOND TO INTERIM CHANCELLOR FOLEY — April 15, 2016

GRADUATE WORKERS RESPOND TO INTERIM CHANCELLOR FOLEY

NEWS RELEASE
GRADUATE WORKERS RESPOND TO INTERIM CHANCELLOR FOLEY
From the Coalition of Graduate Workers

For more information:
organizemizzou@gmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2016

The Coordinating Committee of the Coalition of Graduate Workers is surprised by Interim Chancellor Hank Foley’s recent comments to The Columbia Tribune. In an interview, Foley referred to a free and fair representation election as a “mock election,” referred to graduate student employees as “kids,” and once again inaccurately claimed that he was unaware that an election would occur.

These comments are in addition to the Chancellor’s mass e-mail communication one week ago, which threatened “ramifications” and an anti-union “education campaign” if graduate student employees exercised their constitutionally protected rights as residents of the state of Missouri. Although Foley promised a clarifying e-mail this week, no such communication was sent.

Referring to a democratic and constitutionally guaranteed election as a “mock election” is inaccurate and inappropriate. Although we understand that the University is unwilling to recognize the results of the election at this time, we emphasize that this is a choice the University is making. The election itself will be run according to state and federal best practices. Moreover, referring to it as a “mock election” impugns the professionalism, integrity, and civic engagement of the Columbia League of Women Voters, who will operate the polls.

We are particularly disappointed that Hank Foley referred to Mizzou’s 2,800 graduate student employees as “kids.” This is a patronizing and troubling indication of the University’s attitude toward a population with an average age of over 30, many of whom have families and children of their own. Graduate student employees are educators, researchers, and dedicated professionals, and University leadership owes them a basic level of respect.

Finally, the claim that the election is a “surprise” is incorrect, or else indicates a troubling reporting failure within University administration. Meetings between graduate workers representing CGW and University administrators occurred on five occasions, the first occurring on December 21st. The intent to hold an election despite the University’s decision to force legal action was clearly and explicitly communicated to Vice President for Human Resources Kelley Stuck, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources Erik Smetana, and representatives from the University of Missouri System Office of General Counsel. Moreover, this specific intent was also clearly and explicitly communicated to campus administration. It is a worrying testament to the state of University governance if this information was not conveyed to Interim Chancellor Foley.

The Coalition of Graduate Workers has consistently maintained its desire to work with administration toward a better University; indeed, our notice communicating the details of the upcoming election expressed that “we remain ever-hopeful to forge a cooperative relationship with administration,” and further offered the administration the right to send election observers. To date, the administration has not offered any response to our notice. It is frustrating and unfortunate that upper administration has met our show of good faith with misinformation, intimidation, and disrespect.

We believe that these actions are further proof that graduate student employees must work together to represent their own interests, and we urge graduate student employees to vote “Yes” on April 18th and 19th.

Coordinating Committee
Coalition of Graduate Workers

The Coalition of Graduate Workers is a union local affiliated to the Missouri National Education Association and the National Education Association.

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CGW: A Better Mizzou —
Union Authorization Election FAQ — April 9, 2016

Union Authorization Election FAQ

What is the Coalition of Graduate Workers?

The Coalition of Graduate Workers (CGW) is a graduate employee union for workers at the University of Missouri-Columbia, affiliated with the Missouri National Education Association. CGW works to ensure all graduate employees have dignified working conditions and just compensation for their labor. CGW also works for social justice and equality at the University of Missouri.

How was CGW formed?

CGW arose out of the grassroots graduate student rights movement that came in the wake of the health insurance crisis of August 2015 with the goal of securing a collectively-bargained contract that would prevent future crises. CGW originally acted as the Organizing Committee of the Forum on Graduate Rights (FGR); upon our affiliation with MNEA, we became an independent union local. We continue to work closely with FGR to better the lives of graduate employees and members of the University of Missouri community.

What is being voted on at the union authorization election?

Graduate student employees will be asked to vote on whether they authorize the Coalition of Graduate Workers to act as their exclusive representative for the purpose of collective bargaining. If a majority of those voting say “Yes,” it will authorize the Coalition of Graduate Workers to act as representatives for contract negotiations.

When is the union authorization election happening?

The CGW union authorization election will take place on April 18th and 19th. Polling stations will be located at Memorial Union and the Student Center. Polls will be open between 7 AM and 6 PM on both days.

What do I need to bring to the polls?

Please bring your student ID or other photo identification.

Is this election legal?

Yes. This election has been organized according to best practices for public sector education unions under Missouri law. Due to the University of Missouri’s stance on the employment status of graduate employees, the results may not be immediately recognized, but the election process itself is completely legal.

Who is running the election?

The Columbia chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) will operate the election and certify its results. LWV previously operated the union authorization election between the Columbia National Education Association and the Columbia Public Schools District, and both sides were extremely satisfied with their services. Neither CGW nor the University of Missouri administration will ever handle the ballots.

Who is eligible to vote?

All graduate employees of the University of Missouri – Columbia, excepting professional students, are eligible to vote. This includes graduate fellows.

What if I don’t have an ID, or if I do not appear on the employee list?

You will still be allowed to vote with a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots will be set aside and considered in the event that they would prove determinative to the election results.

Will there be absentee voting?

Unfortunately no. Absentee ballots are very rarely used in union representation elections, and the election is being run according to best practices, so we will not be able to accommodate absentee ballots.

Will the University of Missouri recognize the results of this election?

We hope that it will. The University of Missouri system administration maintains that there is “legal uncertainty” as to whether they are required to recognize a graduate employee union, regardless of the results of the election. CGW and Missouri state law maintain that they are able to, in the absence of a clear precedent, recognize the results of the election.

What process led to this election?

Beginning in the fall semester, CGW began collecting vote authorization signature cards from graduate workers at the University of Missouri. By mid-February, CGW had collected signature cards from a majority of graduate workers at MU, significantly more than the best practices guideline of 30% of the bargaining unit. Because many graduate employees will leave MU at the end of the academic year, it was deemed imperative that we hold an election before the summer break. To avoid conflicts with final examinations and other end-of-semester business, the election was scheduled for late April.

If the election succeeds, will I be forced to join the union?

No. Membership in CGW is completely voluntary. Membership does, however, allow for participation in CGW’s business meetings, among other benefits.

Will there be any negative consequences to participating in this election?

Absolutely not. It is illegal to retaliate against employees for engaging in union activity, including this union authorization election. This applies to all employees, regardless of their citizenship or visa status.