Students launch $8K fundraiser in their efforts to unionize

Student workers at the University of Oregon recently launched a fundraiser, which they call a ‘Solidarity & Relief Fund,’ in their attempt to become an official union.

On the fundraising page, the students claim, 'When we win, our union will be the largest undergrad student worker union in the nation.'

The University of Oregon (UO) Student Workers Union (UOSWU) recently announced its unionization efforts, which it called “heavily anticipated solidarity and relief.” 

UOSWU shared a “Solidarity & Relief” fundraising campaign on its Twitter page, which shows over $2,000 out of an $8,000 goal on GoFundMe.

An article in the student newspaper, the Daily Emeralddescribed the steps for students to unionize. First, they discuss the possibility of unionizing to see who is interested. Then, because student workers are public sector employees, UO will recognize their union if 50 percent of them complete union cards, which ask for names and employment information. 

[RELATED: Graduate students want to unionize]

Unionization efforts began in January of 2022 with a survey gauging the interest of student workers. The survey asked respondents about how many hours they worked, the number of jobs they held, and whether they had negative experiences in the workplace. 

The UOSWU Instagram page shows one of its early events, a call to participate in a rally held by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF). The Instagram post referenced GTFF’s demands for the winter 2022 semester, such as “[M]ove all courses remote,” “[m]aintain a paid, 10-day quarantine and isolation period,” and “[r]equire the use of and provide all UO employees and students with N95 or KN95 masks.”

Student demands related to COVID-19 policies and procedures, as Campus Reform has reported, sometimes exceed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

After the student unionization campaign kickoff, UOSWU hosted a card signing event. By signing the card, students agree to “designate [UOSWU] as the exclusive bargaining representative for the purposes of collective bargaining with [UO],” according to a photo in the Daily Emerald

[RELATED: Union agreement stops strike, keeping 77,000 students in class amid 'learning loss']

Around the time of the campaign kickoff, an Instagram post suggested why student workers should unionize. “While we are defenseless against the exploitation and mistreatment as isolated individuals, we have significant leverage if we act collectively,” the post reads. “If we’re organized and prepared to strike, we can force the administration to make concessions.” 

Other UOSWU social media posts express solidarity with unionization efforts at Tufts UniversityNorthwestern University, and other institutions. On the page for its GoFundMe campaign, UOSWU claims, “When we win, our union will be the largest undergrad student worker union in the nation.” 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties for comment, and this article will be updated accordingly.