After months of feuding with their employer Stony Brook University research assistants have voted to unionize. The final decision to form a union and unite with Communications of America (CWA) Local 1104 came Dec. 5 when 214 RAs voted yes and 135 voted no to unionization. There are about 745 research assistants. The Local already represented more than 4,000 teaching and graduate students throughout the SUNY system befroe the Dec. 5 vote. RAs who voted in favor of unionizing said they believe they will have a better chance of improving their contracts if they are represented as a whole instead of on an individual level.
“We have a louder voice and to have a louder voice we need to speak as one,” said Mariel Lopez-Gasca, a union organizer and a research assistant in the Marine and Applied Sciences Program. Some of the benefits these students receive that the RAs do not are waivers on transportation and technology fees, amongst other benefits. RAs will now be able to negotiate better contracts and one of the most important matters regarding contract negotiations is higher salaries, said Ms. Lopez-Gasca.