PHOTOS – Occidental College Student Workers March on Campus President, Demand Union Recognition to Join SEIU 721

Occidental College student workers and allies marched to campus President Harry J. Elam Jr.’s office on Friday, March 22, to demand that he sign a pledge committing the college to voluntarily recognize their union through a card check process.

The student workers — who are resident advisors, baristas, tour guides, tutors, photographers, mail clerks, lifeguards, researchers, information technology services technicians, and more — have collected hundreds of union authorization cards to join SEIU Local 721 over the past few weeks, gathering support from a clear majority of student workers.

The student workers also filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — but will still push for the college to recognize the union through card check.

Under a card check process, a neutral party would review the union authorization cards gathered by Occidental student workers. If a majority of student workers have signed cards, then the college would immediately recognize the union without any need for an election with the NLRB or any other entity.

“Occidental should respect our clear desire to form a union and voluntarily recognize student workers joining SEIU Local 721,” says Noah Weitzner, a junior at Occidental College, who works as a Media Services Technician and Bike Share Staffer. “We’ve collected signatures from hundreds of student workers and have a clear majority. There is no reason for our president, the administration, and the board of trustees to delay accepting our union — which we must form to improve our working conditions.”

Weitzner added: “Occidental says its core values include building equity and cultivating a community of care. Accepting our union without delay is an opportunity to prove that the college lives up to those values.”

Noah Weitzner, a junior at Occidental College, who works as a Media Services Technician and Bike Share Staffer.

The union campaign — which the students have called Rising Occidental Student Employees (R.O.S.E.) — launched on Wednesday, March 20, at a kick-off rally attended by hundreds of students. The effort comes after years of student workers facing low wages, inconsistent hours, job insecurity, and dismissiveness from management over concerns about their working conditions.

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