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Cornell University Union Election Results Are ‘Inconclusive’ - American Federation Of Teachers Considering Challenge To Results

Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017
by Matt Steecker/The Ithaca Journal
Cornell University Union Election Results Are ‘Inconclusive’ - American Federation Of Teachers Considering Challenge To Results

(ITHACA, NEW YORK) – While Organized Labor appears to concede defeat in a just-held Union Election at Cornell University, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is accusing university administration of misconduct, Labor Law violations and election violations.

The result of an election held Monday and Tuesday of this week to determine whether Cornell University Graduate Student Workers would be recognized as a Union is inconclusive.

Of the 1,856 ballots cast - 856, or about 46%, were “yes” votes to form a union, while 919 - or almost 50%, were “no” votes, and 81 - or more than 4%, are either challenged ballots, unresolved marking-related challenges or absentee ballots that need to be verified, according to a statement from Cornell Graduate Students United (CGSU) - a group of Graduate Student Workers, Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants.

According to CGSU Representatives, the American Arbitration Association should determine the results of the election sometime before the end of this month.

After most of the votes were determined, the AFT accused Cornell University Administrators of a "clear pattern" of administrative misconduct, committing a "glaring swathe" of Labor Law violations and engaging in a series of election violations.

AFT Representatives say the administration distributed an e-mail on election eve claiming a Union would mean reduced Graduate Student enrollment at Cornell.

AFT Reps also said, Cornell sent - without evidence, a mass e-mail on the first day of voting claiming CGSU campaigners were telling people who were not supporters of the Union not to vote.

According to the AFT, later that evening, Cornell notified the Graduate Student Body that it would drastically cut health care costs next school year, a major issue that CGSU Members were campaigning for.

AFT Reps also said administrators did this to induce Graduate Students to vote against the Union.

“As an alumna of the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, I want to say ‘how deeply disappointed I am with the egregious conduct’ of the university," AFT President Randi Weingarten said. "Cornell ‘flagrantly violated the spirit of both the code of conduct we negotiated and Federal Labor Law.’"

Although the arbitrator will determine the results of the election next month, a statement released by GCSU contains comments that make it seem as if representatives believe the movement to form a Union has lost the election.

"Although a clear majority of voters didn't vote ‘yes,’ we remain proud of what we've accomplished together," the statement read.

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