Following endorsement from Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, New York Senator Chuck Schumer has extended his support for the right of graduate workers to unionize and collectively bargain! You can read his letter below.
To the Cornell Graduate Workers:
As a leading research institution in New York, Cornell plays a crucial role in the development of future generations of citizens, researchers, inventors, scholars, entrepreneurs and more. Fueled by the tireless and ongoing efforts of RAs and TAs, Cornell is a valuable economic driver in the Southern Tier – and the whole state and nation. This past August, the National Labor Relations Board made a significant decision that restored the rights of graduate student research and teaching assistants (RAs and TAs) to collectively bargain at universities. It is a decision I strongly supported because I believe in the right of employees to organize and to collectively bargain for fair contracts. Soon, you will have the opportunity to exercise this right and I encourage all at Cornell who are eligible to participate in this election.
It has been my experience that workplaces function most effectively when there is a proper balance between workers and management. From Day One, the American labor movement has been a springboard for advancement, economic equity and fair representation in the workplace. But perhaps most importantly, unions build the middle class by affording hardworking people fair wages, decent benefits and a say over their work lives. I have worked for many years with the American Federation of Teachers and can say that they are a first-rate institution that knows how to advocate for its members and build positive, win-win relationships with employers, especially in academic settings.
I commend both the administration and the graduate labor force for both their cooperative engagement in setting rules for the organizing process and their willingness to negotiate a contract should the graduate workers choose to form a union. The ability for RAs and TAs to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and the respect for which the University’s administration and faculty have for this right, is reflected in the ongoing cooperation between the two parties. The healthy functioning of the university community is best secured by ensuring a free and fair election on unionization and, should the majority elect union representation, a prompt engagement in good-faith negotiations for a contract. I commend Cornell for its willingness to pursue this course.
I wish you the best as you engage in this critical process. And I look forward to on ongoing relationship with Cornell University and all its vital components to continue to build that great institution’s capabilities and impact.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator