Letters to the EditorOpinion

Union welcomes Portland State Recycling Program

Members of the Service Employees International Union would like to welcome the students of the Portland State University Recycling Program to our ranks. The 14 part-time workers in the recycling program found it advantageous to seek union representation to gain basic job rights and protections from arbitrary and adversarial workplace management.

The students petitioned the Employee Relations Board for a unit clarification election to allow them to join SEIU Local 503. The Chancellor’s office and Portland State University failed to file any objections until after their deadline. The board declined to extend their deadline, so the election was held and the students voted unanimously to join SEIU. The Chancellor then refused to bargain contract terms for the new members as part of the normal ongoing negotiations, until SEIU filed an unfair labor practice complaint and made bargaining for the student recyclers a make-or-break contract settlement issue. We believe this is the first time a group of undergraduate students has sought and won union representation in the entire country.

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