Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren expressed her support for the Boston College Graduate Employees Union - United Auto Workers (BCGEU-UAW) and graduate student workers who are organizing unions throughout the country on Twitter Thursday night.
"It should be quick and easy for anyone to join a union, including graduate student workers," said Warren's tweet. "I stand with student workers at @BostonCollege and at universities across the country who want to unionize. Their voices must be heard."
Warren joins her Democratic primary competitor Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Massachusetts, State Senator Jamie Eldridge, and the Boston City Council in urging the Boston College administration to recognize the union.
Sanders sent a letter to University President Fr. William Leahy in November 2017, urging him to respect the collective bargaining efforts of graduate student employees at BC. He reaffirmed his support in June with a tweet calling on BC administrators to recognize and bargain with the BCGEU-UAW.
In addition, Eldridge, a graduate of BC Law, was denied a meeting with top administrators when he joined union members and supporters in delivering a petition signed by over 3,700 individuals in the BC community to Leahy's office last December.
Most recently, the Boston City Council passed a resolution in April which called on the BC administration to recognize and bargain with BCGEU-UAW. The city council hosted a public hearing on graduate student labor practices at local universities in June.
Although the majority of graduate student workers voted to be represented by BCGEU-UAW in a National Labor Relations Board election in September 2017, the university has continuously refused to recognize the union-organizing efforts of its graduate student workers and even sanctioned students for participating in union activities in the past academic year.
According to a Q&A on the university website, BC opposes unionization "because our graduate student teaching and research assistants—who are engaged in the core work of the University—are primarily students, not employees, and because of the Jesuit, Catholic dimensions of our mission."
Update: September 5, 2019, at 6:45 p.m.
The Warren campaign has since released a video message supporting the union, which was shared on the BCGEU-UAW Facebook page on Sept. 4.
In the video, Warren thanks students for their participation in labor organizing.
"The battle you are fighting is a crucial one," said Warren. "Graduate student workers have the right to organize under federal labor law and you are right to stand up and demand that Boston College recognize your union and begin bargaining."
Warren continued, "BC may have a technical right to hide behind the Trump NLRB by refusing to recognize your union, but make no mistake about it, BC has a moral responsibility to do what is right, and that means bargaining with you."
At the end of the video, Warren assured students, "I am with you all the way."