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United Auto Workers Delivers Petition To Boston College

Boston College's New Building, Stokes Hall
Stokes Hall, on Boston College's Chestnut Hill campus.
Suzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe via Getty Images

A national labor union delivered a petition to Boston College administrators Friday on behalf of teaching and research assistants who voted to organize more than a year ago, demanding that the school recognize their union.

The United Auto Workers said graduate students would deliver the petition themselves, but BC has punished them for exercising their right to organize.

Graduate student Ethan Farber told WGBH News administrators have cracked down on protests, claiming they are unregistered events.

"This flies in the face of federal labor rights and free speech rights, but the university is doing it anyway," Farber said.

BC spokesman Jack Dunn disputed those claims.

"In an ill-advised moment, earlier this year students disrupted a conversation with faculty and administrators and BC parents and then they also foolishly protested an event that was designed to raise money for our lowest-income students," said Dunn, adding that administrators strongly oppose the unionization.

“Our opposition at Boston College is that graduate student unionization undermines the collegial mentoring relationship among students and faculty that has been a cornerstone of the BC academic experience,” Dunn said. “Our position is consistent with that of the University of Chicago and Yale University.”

Two years ago, the National Labor Relations Board ruled graduate students at private colleges have the right to unionize. Since then, graduate students at Harvard, Tufts, Brandeis, Brown and Georgetown have all formed unions to negotiate contracts.

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