Home Education Student Senate votes to support RAs unionizing

Student Senate votes to support RAs unionizing

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As some residential assistants plan to organize themselves into a union, Student Senate offered official support during Wednesday night’s meeting.

Senate passed a resolution to support RAs unionizing, with five members of Senate that are RAs abstaining from voting due to conflict of interest. Members of Senate have started to organize RAs to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1699 branch in hopes of getting bargaining rights and to receive more recognition than the university gives them. Currently, Senator-at-large Jessica Lindner says that over 100 RAs out of Ohio University’s 257 have signed forms expressing interest.

Local 1699 president and OU alumnus Dave Logan gave a presentation during the meeting, gave his full support towards RAs and expressed his gratitude to what they do on campus.

“To me, the resident assistants are first responders,” Logan said. “If there’s a fire alarm, who’s going door-to-door to see who gets out? If there’s an unruly student, who’s taking care of it? If you have vandalism, if you have something broken, who do you go to report that to? Who’s the first person that you call?”

Currently, all service employees at Ohio University are part of Local 1699. Logan said that if RAs decide to unionize, they would have to pay a “fair share” to become an RA to enjoy the benefits the union would provide, but they don’t necessarily have to join the union.

Some dissenting voices brought up points of union dues, a possible increase in fees as a result and debated on whether Senate should support a “political” resolution such as this one.

“I think unions are an awfully political idea and are highly controversial,” Anna Lippincott, a junior studying journalism and political science, said. “I just really think that you guys are my representatives, so we have to respect each other’s political ideologies.” She invoked Senate’s refusal to either support or reject Senate Bill 5, a public employee collective bargaining rights bill, in 2011 as an example of Senate not taking a political stance.

Senators responded that Senate is already a political body because there are elections and that the resolution was more about supporting the workers rights of RAs.

The organizers are continuing to gather support from RAs and want to gather 55 more supporters until they make a vote on whether to unionize with AFSCME.

Senate also saw a presentation from Leah Wilson from the Take Back the Tap initiative. Take Back the Tap started this semester as a campaign to get students to stop using bottled water and instead use reusable water bottles.

“…bottled water companies take your municipal tap water, in most cases, and bottle it and resell it back to you,” Wilson said. “I don’t know about you, but I think that’s ridiculous. You already paid for it once; why pay for it again? There’s no reason.”

Wilson said that once they get enough money, they will give out reusable water bottles during the Student Involvement Fair for incoming freshmen and push to install goosenecks (hoses connected to the fountain that make it easier to fill water bottles) on every university water fountain so students can use them to refill their water bottles.

LGBTQA commissioner Ryant Taylor took time during the Student SpeakOUt to criticize a letter to the editor South Green senator Gabby Bacha sent to The Post. He rebutted points she made in the letter, including a point where she says that Senate should be “a functioning representative student body”. Taylor believes that Senate should move away from being a representative body and instead focus on challenging students to fight for themselves.

“Because in the world that we live in, that’s what you have to do that every single day,” Taylor said. “Sometimes you have to do that for reasons that are screwed up, like having to sacrifice your moral for a job, and sometimes you do that because you believe that if you do not speak up, if you do not challenge other people, nothing will ever change. And I want us to really keep that in mind when we are facing criticism because we’re not as professional or as civil as people want us to be because I’m frankly tired of being civil, and I’m tired of everyone else being civil.”

Bacha still sticks to what she said in the letter.

“I think my points are stronger. I think that [people against Senate] gained more attention because more students are agreeing with them. I’ve seen a lot of circulation of the letter I wrote because people ultimately think that’s what’s going on in Senate. So I’m not really phased by [Taylor’s response].”

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