- Graduate students at Loyola University Chicago voted this week to unionize with a local division of the Service Employees International Union, setting the stage for collective bargaining with the university for higher wages and benefits.
- The vote marks one of the first successful effort by graduate students to unionize since the National Labor Relations Board ruled last August in favor of the groups being recognized as university employees.
- Loyola officials expressed disappointment with the outcome of the vote, but pledged to work with the union to bargain earnings and benefits for the new organization.
Loyola joins New York University and Columbia University as campuses with successful labor union efforts, and with each successful move, more private campuses draw closer to similar outcomes. At Columbia, the administration has responded by challenging the graduate students' decision with the NLRB, alleging voter persuasion tactics may have swayed the vote.
But college presidents should consider meeting with representatives from graduate student associations ahead of such efforts to get a sense of economic and workload realities and to try to meet in the middle on some demands before unionization makes the efforts too costly for a campus to easily navigate. In the end, many leaders may decide that the media coverage and the benefits are best addressed ahead of a mobilization effort, instead of on the back end of opposition to the same.