Barnard decided not to voluntarily recognize the Barnard RA Union in a meeting on Thursday, October 13, following a petition, rally, and over 800 emails of support.

Today, in a meeting with Dean Grinage, Dean Giles, and other members of Barnard’s Administration, the College decided not to voluntarily recognize the Barnard RA Union. According to an Instagram post by @barnardraunion, the meeting was scheduled last-minute.

On October 3, 95% of the 57 current Barnard RAs submitted a petition to announce their formation of a union and demanded voluntary recognition. Barnard RAs say the position has become an “overwhelming, 24/7 job,” in which they are required to stay on campus through weekends and holidays, attend weekly meetings, hold one-on-one counseling sessions with all their residents, create monthly bulletin boards, host monthly programs, and work weekly overnight shifts. RAs on financial aid see little to no financial benefit, and say they “constantly have to overwork themselves under bad management.” The Union held a rally in front of Barnard Hall last Friday, October 7, with speakers who vocalized the concerns and frustrations of the RAs, along with the goals of the union: better working conditions, pay, and greater transparency. Additionally, over 800 individuals sent emails in support of Barnard RAs.

Despite the community’s support for Barnard RAs, the Barnard Administration declined to voluntarily recognize the Union. In response, Barnard RAs will file a petition for an election with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, according to their Instagram post. Although filing this petition means that it may take longer to end up at the bargaining table, the Union has stated their continued commitment to fight for their rights. The Barnard RA Union ended their Instagram post with a larger call-out to the College: “Barnard has once again proved that they do not care for their student workers, yet we will continue to fight for the labor rights we know we deserve.”

Update made on Thursday, October 13 at 10 pm: This post has been updated with a statement Bwog received from a Barnard College spokesperson regarding the RA Union’s meeting with Barnard administration. The full text of the statement is below.

Today members of the College administration met with Resident Assistants who have led an effort to seek union representation for all RAs. We have asked these students to engage in a fair and democratic election process overseen by the National Labor Relations Board to ensure that all voices of the proposed unit are heard. The College remains committed to providing an environment free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Below is our communication to them.

Dear RAs,

Thank you very much for meeting today. We want to reiterate our commitment to a fair and democratic process, which we communicated in the meeting. We value the contributions of RAs in our community and strongly support your growth and wellbeing. 

As an institution of higher education, we are dedicated to providing our promising and accomplished Barnard students with a premiere educational experience. It is our responsibility to create an environment where information is easily exchanged and there is a free flow of ideas. We also have a proud history of working collaboratively with labor unions on our campus. 

We must ensure that our students are given a platform to share and receive information and voice their own opinions. In this situation, the established method by which an election is conducted by the National Labor Relations Board will allow for a fair and democratic process, the outcome of which we will honor and respect. 

We encourage you to consider this option, and we look forward to working together.

RA Union rally via Bwarchives