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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

CSUEU, non-academic student assistants to unionize

Union members look forward to bargaining for higher wages, paid sick days, accessible transportation and adequate workforce training
A group of raised hands against a blue background. Created by Ariana Powell on Feb. 23.

Non-academic student assistants across all California State University campuses voted to join their union with the California State University Employment Union on Friday.

While The Union of Academic Student Workers at the California State University has represented academic student employees since 2004, non-academic student workers have not been represented by a union. 

Non-academic student employees are students employed in administrative, technical and professional positions by a university.

The vote started on Jan. 25 and was open to all CSU student assistants who have been employed on a CSU campus since May 2023.

A CSUEU X post on Friday announced that 97% of student assistant voters voted to join the union. 

The CSUEU press release on Friday said 7,050 out of the 7,052 student voters voted to unionize.

“#GenZ workers are claiming their seat at the table for fair wages & respect!” CSUEU wrote in the post.

Now that the vote is over, there is a 10-day waiting period for the CSUEU to become certified as the union representing student assistants, CSUEU spokesperson Khanh Weinburg said.

After gathering thousands of signatures in April 2023 to petition for this union election, these student assistants are “the largest undergraduate student worker union in the nation,”  the press release said. 

This vote was also the first predominantly digital election overseen by California’s Public Employee Relations Board.

The CSUEU represented 16,000 CSU staff members before the vote and will now represent about 20,000 non-academic student workers that qualify for the union, CSUEU President Catherine Hutchinson said in the press release.

Because student assistants have unionized with CSUEU, they can begin the process of bargaining for higher wages, paid sick days, accessible parking, transportation and more.

“We intend to start a bargaining survey for student workers so they can prioritize their issues,” Weinburg said.

In the press release, Sacramento State student assistant Gem Gutierrez expressed her eagerness to negotiate the first contract with CSU so that immediate issues can be addressed.

“Many of us will only be here for four years but we know that this isn’t just for us – this is for every student worker who comes after us,” Gutierrez said.

Currently, student assistants make minimum wage, receive fewer benefits than union members and have had their hours capped at 20 hours a week. Recently, work typically done by union staff has been shifted onto them.

Students are looking forward to addressing these issues once their first union contract is negotiated with the university.

“We hope it is quick because these student assistants deserve an equitable contract after years of being underpaid and undervalued,” Weinburg said.

The bargaining process itself could take weeks or months, but the exact time frame is unclear at this time.

The Orion has reached out to student assistant members of the union and is awaiting a response.

Grace Stark can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Grace Stark, News Editor
Grace Stark is a second-year majoring in journalism, news. She is from Loomis, a small town outside of Sacramento. This is her second semester on The Orion and she is excited to pursue her interests in writing and reporting as the news editor. Outside of school, Grace enjoys thrifting, reading, drawing and spending time with friends. She also has a small business online called Rings by Grace where she sells handmade spoon rings.

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