Resident Assistant Union Passes After Vote


Fordham Resident Assistants (RAs) voted 47-19 to ratify the Fordham Resident Assistants Union (FRA) in a formal vote with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on March 21. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Fordham Resident Assistants (RAs) voted 47-19 to ratify the Fordham Resident Assistants Union (FRA) in a formal vote with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on March 21. The vote effectively forces the university to recognize the union following the university’s refusal to acknowledge the group in February.

“We are extremely excited to have won our union today! We couldn’t without the support of our fellow RAs and OPEIU Local 153. After winning our union 47 to 19, we are prepared to begin the bargaining process in hopes of gaining better compensation, more protections and an effective line of communication,” said Sophia Ghelardini, FCRH ’25, an RA, in a press release.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Fordham RAs to our union family,” said Local 153 union organizer Scott Williams in the same press release. “These 96 workers will join over 200 OPEIU members at Fordham, building union power for all workers and students at Fordham. We can’t wait to continue supporting their leadership and working to win a transformative contract.”
In response to the vote, Bob Howe, assistant vice president for communication and special advisor to the president, said:

“The University accepts the results of the vote. We look forward to negotiating a mutually beneficial contract with the resident assistants and their union representatives.”

The FRA will represent the interests of 96 Resident Assistants in Fordham’s Rose Hill campus under the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 153 (OPEIU-153). FRA will be the third union to engage in major action, the other two being the Fordham Faculty Union and the Graduate Student Workers union.

FRA sought voluntary recognition from the university on Feb. 1 by delivering a petition to President Tania Tetlow. The university told the union that they would not recognize the union voluntarily, stating:

“First, until we have more clarity on whether such a union would include only Rose Hill resident assistants, we do not yet know whether a majority of potential members signed your letter. Second, we would like to ensure that those voting have full information about the processes, dues and rules of a union before voting.”

Earlier this month, the FRA filed anti-labor charges against university administration, accusing the institution of violating labor laws set forth by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Specifically, the charges set forth relate to an email sent by Jeffrey L. Gray, senior vice president for Student Affairs, to resident assistants in anticipation of the March 21 vote. The union claims that statements made in the email infringed upon the union’s ability to organize, especially since the NLRA prohibits employers from interfering with their employees’ rights.

“It’s threatening,” said SRA Peter Wolff, FCRH ’23, describing Gray’s email. “The way it comes off, it interferes with our right to organize.” The organizing members pointed to specific statements made in the email that they felt were especially misleading. The first of these statements regarded union dues.

In response, Howe claimed that the email in question was “a statement of the labor law that binds us, an explanation of our inability to immediately respond to the issues raised in the RAs’ petition.”

After the March 21 vote, the university will be forced to recognize the union and will enter negotiations with organizers.