Letter To The Editor

The RPI RA Union Election is approaching

By RPI RA Union March 21, 2023

Editor's note:

The following is an unedited press release from the RPI RA Union. The opinions in the press release do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Polytechnic nor its affiliates.

RAs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have been fighting for fair pay, better work distribution, and improved communication with RPI administration for around 3 years. After significant effort and organizing, the RA union at RPI is poised to win their labor union election, which will take place next week on March 28th and March 29th.

The unionization effort has gained more momentum in recent weeks, with confirmed support for the union rising from 76% to 85%; a number that they expect will continue to grow. The RAs have been vocal about their need for fair wages, as well as a meal plan that is either covered by the institution, or is optional. In addition, they have called for better work distribution to ensure that every RA’s workload is reasonable, and that their role as a student is also taken into account.

Despite the support of a supermajority of RAs, RPI has refused to voluntarily recognize the RPI RA Union OPEIU Local 153 as the bargaining representative for RAs at the university. This has led to the union filing for recognition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is culminating in an election involving the entire workforce next week.

The unionization effort has gained the support of a wide range of individuals and organizations, including students, local allies, politicians, and representatives from labor unions around the Capital Region. The rally that was held in support of the newly formed RA Union saw participants chanting slogans such as “Fair pay for my RA!” and “Union strong; All day long!”

Despite the support from RAs and allies, RPI has pushed back in a few different ways. Firstly, through meetings full of anti union rhetoric intended to dissuade RAs from unionizing. Secondly, through RPI admin intruding on RA staff meetings to perpetuate union busting and lies meant to mislead RAs. The RPI RA Union will file an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the NLRB, due to their illegal union busting practices.

The RPI RA Union is committed to fairly representing all RAs at RPI, and are confident that they will win their NLRB sanctioned election. However, they have stressed that their job is not yet done, as now they must focus on the steps to take when beginning the bargaining process. Union leaders maintain that unionization is the best way to make lasting change in their workplace and community. Without the protection of a union, RPI is able to roll back any changes they choose to offer in the short term. The RA union is committed to continuing their fight for fair pay, better work distribution, and improved communication. They believe that unionization is the best way to achieve these goals and that the lasting support from local allies continues to further that belief.