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MU Graduate Students File Lawsuit Against UM Board of Curators over Union Recognition

Rebecca Smith

The Coalition of Graduate Workers, a union representing MU graduate student employees, filed a lawsuit against the University Of Missouri Board Of Curators on Wednesday.   

The Coalition is suing to have graduate students classified as employees and to have the Coalition of Graduate Workers be recognized as the collective bargaining representative for MU graduate student employees.

Eric Scott, one of the co-chairs of the Coalition of Graduate Workers, said he was disappointed that the university failed to recognize the Coalition as a bargaining agent following a graduate student election in April.

“It’s been our position all along that we believe that a union is the best way to move forward for the university and to make the university a better and more sustainable environment,” Scott said. “I was extremely disappointed that the university is refusing to work with us, when that's all we've ever wanted to do with them.”

But he adds that many graduate students were not surprised by the University’s decision.

“After all of the things that we have gone through this year, it's not really that surprising that the university is choosing to be obstructionist,” Scott said. “Which is unfortunate. We would all like to have more faith in our university than this, but, that’s the situation that they have set up.”

Scott said that the lawsuit is a way for the Coalition of Graduate Workers to once and for all prove that graduate student employees are employees and have the standing to unionize.

He added that the union was hoping to avoid a costly legal battle, but, he said, “at the same time we're willing to fight for our rights.”

It is uncertain when the case will be decided, but Scott said that the union is hoping it can be resolved in a matter of months, rather than years.

Representatives of the UM System have not responded to requests for comment.  

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.