Boston College graduate students fighting for union recognition from the Jesuit institution have received a morale boost from Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren.
Warren, the Massachusetts senator, in a recently taped video message, told the graduate students: “I am with you all the way.”
The message, which the students plan to release this week, comes out just before students start classes for the new school year and signals that they will continue their yearslong fight to win union recognition from Boston College.
Graduate students at Boston College have attempted to unionize under the umbrella of the national United Auto Workers. The students have said they want a contract with better benefits and improved worker protections.
But Boston College has maintained that graduate students are students, not workers, and that unionization would undermine the collegial and mentoring relationship between faculty and students.
“Boston College is committed to upholding this longstanding relationship, which we believe is in our mutual best interest,” said Jack Dunn, a college spokesman.
In an effort to pressure Boston College to voluntarily recognize the union, the students have tried to rally outside political support from Boston City Council and political candidates.
In June, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is also running to be the Democratic nominee for president, posted his support for Boston College graduate students on Twitter.
“It’s time the university respects the majority of grad students who voted to be in a union,” Sanders tweeted.
Whether pressure from political candidates will sway the college to recognize the union remains unclear. But it does offer these presidential hopefuls an opportunity to energize young voters on college campuses.
In her taped message, Warren said Boston College is one of the state’s most prominent employers and has a “moral responsibility to do what’s right” and to start bargaining with the graduate students.
Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.