Seven members of the Boston College Graduate Employees Union (BCGEU-UAW) handed out flyers and held up signs criticizing the university's refusal to recognize their union outside the final Beanpot game on Monday night.
The flyers urged game attendants to "tell Boston College to stop disciplining graduate workers and bargain now!" They also asked members of the university community to sign a petition supporting union efforts, according to an email from union member Samantha Levinson.
The graduate student employees specifically cited Catholic social teaching with Laborem exercens, an encyclical by Saint Pope John Paul II, which calls unions "a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice... it is not a struggle 'against' others."
According to the BCGEU-UAW flyer, more than 10 private universities, including local colleges and Georgetown, another Jesuit institution, have already agreed to recognize and bargain with unions elected to represent their graduate student workers.
BCGEU-UAW won the right to represent graduate student employees working in research and teaching positions at BC through an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Sept. 2017. However, the university refused to acknowledge unionization and appealed to the NLRB to review the election results.
The union ultimately withdrew its petition to the NLRB in April due to concerns that recent decisions under the Trump administration were moving the NLRB in an anti-union direction that could threaten the union's right to organize and push for collective bargaining.
Despite the withdrawal of the union petition, the graduate employees union has continued to demand collective bargaining through demonstrations including the "March Against Injustice" rally in April.
Most recently, graduate student employees walked out of a Parents' Weekend presentation by University President Fr. William Leahy and picketed outside of Pops on the Heights in September.
David Quigley, Provost of Faculties, released a statement on Sept. 25 condemning this demonstration and re-affirming that the Boston College administration remains opposed to union recognition on the grounds that "graduate student unionization in any form undermines the collegial, mentoring relationship among students and faculty that is a cornerstone of this academic community."
Following these events, BCGEU-UAW publicized that more than a dozen members received disciplinary sanctions for participating in the walkout and picketing events during Parents' Weekend.
According to a petition that was circulated by the union, graduate student employees were "unjustly" sanctioned for "peaceful efforts to distribute leaflets and exercise their free speech right to inform the public of the college’s refusal to bargain."