MU graduate students vote to unionize



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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — University of Missouri graduate student workers have overwhelmingly voted to unionize.

About 84 percent of the 795 graduate students who voted were in favor of allowing the Coalition of Graduate Workers to represent them in collective bargaining, the Columbia Missourian (http://bit.ly/1VEnpoV ) reports. Voting took place on Monday and Tuesday.

"We're thrilled, we're gratified," said Joseph Moore, member of the Coalition of Graduate Workers organizing committee. "It's the democratic will of grad student employees."

Graduate workers formed the Forum of Graduate Rights after the university threatened to stop graduate workers' subsidized health insurance in August. The coalition branched out of the group with the intent of unionizing.

University administrators still must recognize the union before negotiations can occur. It might take some convincing.

MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley wrote in an email to the Graduate Professional Council on April 8 that "any vote to unionize at this time cannot be considered binding or recognized by the university."

State law says employees have the right to form a union. However, the university has never officially classified graduate students as employees, despite a resolution passed by the Graduate Professional Council in February reaffirming the students' rights as workers.

Moore said he felt confident that the university would recognize the election results.

"I don't see how they couldn't (recognize the union)," he said.

Moore said lawyers are prepared to file a lawsuit if they don't, but he hoped it wouldn't get to that point.

Graduate students are not required to join the union. Those who decided to join will have to pay a monthly fee.

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Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com

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The Associated Press

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