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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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CSU student workers form largest union in the nation

Students+walking+by+the+Fresno+State+Memorial+Fountain+on+Sept.+5.+CSU+student+workers+have+voted+to+unionize+and+now+have+a+seat+at+the+bargaining+table.+
Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Students walking by the Fresno State Memorial Fountain on Sept. 5. CSU student workers have voted to unionize and now have a seat at the bargaining table.

California State University student workers have voted to approve a union.

The union approval is historic, being the largest student worker union in the nation.

After nearly a month of voting, the results came in this morning with 97% of student assistants voting in favor of unionizing.

“Through a union, we can make real changes at CSU and show students and universities across the country that anything is possible when we fight together,” said Cameron Macedonio, student at CSU Fullerton and part of the organizing committee in a student-worker-wide email.

The goal is for student assistants to join CSUEU/SEIU Local 2579, the union representing 16,000 university staff members, in order to give student workers a seat at the bargaining table, according to Emilio Carrasco, a member of the union’s organizing committee.

The union is not its own thing, but more like a new facet of the employee union, Carrasco said.

Students have expressed concerns about the timing of the payroll, which is something the union plans to combat.

Jaden Baker, a Fresno State student, spoke about this issue at a Fresno State open forum in September 2023.

“They’re [student workers] being paid monthly, which for students on campus, at a college, is not necessarily the best form of payment. I think bi-weekly should be, at most, the gap between payment periods,” Baker said.

Baker expressed that it should not have to get to a point where students feel the need to unionize.

“I have heard talks as students [are] beginning to unionize and I feel that it shouldn’t have to get to that point,” Baker said.

It did get to that point.

With a union, students will be able to fight against the exploitations they face in the workforce on campus.
Carrasco said that the CSU doesn’t fully commit to student success. .

“The CSU system is kind of hypocritical when they claim to be about wanting their students to succeed and promoting equality and their goals of wanting the best for their students, but also not paying their own student assistants enough to even support themselves through their education and through their job,” he told The Collegian.

Other goals of the union are to negotiate a contract with the CSU, to lock in better pay and benefits such as: paid sick leave and affordable parking.

“Student assistants play critical roles in the daily operations of various areas on campus…” Vanessa Navarro, an administrative support coordinator at Fresno State said. “It’s only fair that they are able to bring their voices to the table to advocate for fair working conditions for themselves.”

The next step is for student workers to come up with a list of the most important things to fight for. A link was emailed to student workers with a survey to fill out before a contract is drafted and presented to the CSU.

“The CSU has a long history of providing on-campus jobs to students through student assistant positions, which give our students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience while they pursue their degrees,” said Leora Freedman, CSU vice chancellor for human resources in a statement to student media. “The CSU respects the decision of student assistants to form a union and looks forward to bargaining in good faith with the newly formed CSUEU student assistant unit.”

The student worker classification will remain with its current standards until a final agreement is reached between the CSU and the union.

Carrasco is a student assistant in the dean’s office of the Kremen School of Education. He said that the union will lower students’ stress levels and also provide them with more time to focus on their degrees.

“If it means one student doesn’t have to work that second or third job, that’s more time that can go towards their schoolwork or go towards spending time with their family or friends,” Carrasco said. “Because no one should have the stress of three jobs on top of trying to get their degree.”

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