A Penn State graduate student's attempt to halt the upcoming unionization vote was quashed by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board on Thursday.
Michael Cronin, a doctoral student and graduate assistant studying energy and mineral engineering, filed a motion to intervene in the ongoing legal matter before the PLRB on Friday. According to a press release from The Fairness Center, which represents Cronin, he sought to halt the union election and overturn a hearing examiner's decision designating certain grad students as public employees.
In an affidavit filed, Cronin stated, "I do not consent to the Coalition of Graduate Employees representation. ... I should be free to speak for myself."
The Coalition of Graduate Employees filed a response to the motion Monday.
The PLRB's decision states that "individual employees lack standing to intervene in representation election proceedings before the Board. ... Mr. Cronin lacks standing to intervene in this matter. Because Mr. Cronin lacks standing to intervene or participate as a party, he also lacks standing to file his motion for review and stay. Therefore, his motion is hereby denied."
Cronin said in a statement via the Fairness Center that he's happy to have taken a public stance against forced unionization.
"All voices on both sides of this issue are important, not just the loudest," he said. "I encourage all eligible students to please vote. I also encourage my fellow students to understand the facts and form their own opinions. This union is seeking exclusive representation status. That means, if elected, the union would speak for all graduate assistants, including those who did not vote for union representation."
CGE applauded the PLRB's decision, calling it a win for all union employees in a press release.
“We’re pleased that the democratic process won out in the end,” Jerome Clarke, co-president of CGE, said in the release. “The attempt to halt an election that the majority of graduate assistants here want was nothing more than the Fairness Center exhibiting its union-busting mission, and we’re glad the PLRB saw that as well.”
The point of having the election, though, is to determine what the majority of graduate assistants want.
Penn State has made its opposition to a union clear, saying the university considers graduate assistants to be students first and foremost. The university has encouraged all eligible graduate student voters to participate in the election. A simple majority will determine the outcome.
The vote is scheduled for April 10-13 at University Park campus, April 16 at Hershey Medical and April 17 at Penn State Harrisburg. Graduate employees at the Great Valley and Behrend campuses will vote via mail ballot.