CSU Student Assistants Unite: An Unprecedented Victory

CSU Student Assistants Unite: An Unprecedented Victory

By Miriam Packard

In a groundbreaking turn of events, student assistants from California State University (CSU) campuses have clinched a historic win, forming the largest union of undergraduate student workers in the United States. The resounding affirmation came today as California state officials announced that student assistants voted overwhelmingly to join the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU/SEIU Local 2579). 

An astonishing 7,050 out of 7,252 student assistants cast their votes in favor of unionization, marking a 97% majority. This landslide victory underscores the collective determination of student workers to shape the landscape of labor rights within the CSU system. 

The celebratory atmosphere was palpable as student workers eagerly awaited the official confirmation of their triumph. From the bustling offices of the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to virtual Zoom gatherings across campuses, students clad in colorful CSUEU T-shirts erupted in cheers as news of their victory reverberated. 

Gem Gutierrez, a student assistant at Sacramento State, articulated the sentiments of many when she emphasized the significance of the unionization effort. Beyond immediate concerns like pay and benefits, Gutierrez underscored the broader impact of their victory, advocating for a better future for generations of student workers to come. 

The journey towards unionization began months ago, fueled by grassroots activism and a fervent desire for change. In April, student assistants submitted a petition with thousands of signatures, calling for state authorities to authorize their union election—a momentous undertaking that would ultimately redefine the landscape of student labor rights. 

Since then, student organizers have mobilized an unprecedented digital campaign, leveraging technology to engage their peers and rally support across the CSU system. Through text messages, emails, and virtual outreach, organizers have moved beyond barriers to participation, catalyzing a movement that transcends campus boundaries. 

The significance of this victory extends far beyond the confines of campus life. By uniting as a formidable force, student assistants have ignited a spark of hope for a new era of labor activism; one characterized by solidarity, resilience, and unwavering determination. 

Catherine Hutchinson, President of CSUEU, aptly stated, “Student work is real work.” With the union’s formation, student assistants now stand shoulder to shoulder with CSU staff, challenging traditional power structures and advocating for a more equitable future for all. 

The student assistants’ triumph serves as a testament to the power of collective action and the enduring legacy of grassroots organizing. As they forge ahead into uncharted territory, they do so with the knowledge that their victory is not just a milestone; it is a rallying cry for a brighter, more equitable future. 

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry states it best when she said, “Just like Cal State faculty, student workers who keep CSU campuses running must have a strong and united voice.” Today, that voice has spoken, and its message reverberates far beyond the hallowed halls of academia.