Worker unionization at UTSA


A specter is haunting the administration of UTSA: the specter of a Student Workers Union. With each passing day, the necessity for unionization is becoming more clear and present in the minds of students attending our university, but why is that? 

The concept of a Student Workers Union is not entirely new within college culture, with organizations such as the Student Workers of Columbia (SWC) having been created in the past. Currently, the SWC holds the title of the largest student worker union, clocking in at over 3,000 members. Last January, this workers union managed to reach an agreement with Columbia University in which they managed to continue the recognition of said union, alongside increasing work benefits, protective actions for power-based harassment and even increasing the wages of student workers on campus. Though, Columbia students are not the only ones fighting the good fight. Graduate students from our sister school, the University of Texas at Austin, have also been fighting for safe working conditions, better health benefits and livable wages, since August 2021. Due to the university’s laissez-faire approach when it came to COVID-19 regulation, three staff members at the time had been confirmed dead due to contracting the virus. Naturally, this further incentivized the student workers at UT Austin to organize and fight these conditions, and we should too. 

When looking at the livable wage calculator for the San Antonio/New Braunfels, Texas, the area provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a single adult should be able to support themselves with $14.74 an hour, being able to live somewhat comfortably with the presented wage. Currently, the average pay for a UTSA student worker is $9.58 an hour, with the lowest being a measly $8.00. For a university that not only has received $29.7 million in federal funding due to COVID-19, but also charges a $170 minimum per semester for a surface level car parking pass during normal operation hours, you would think that the university pays their student workers better, considering they make up roughly 53% of all on-campus employees. 

A new era in work-related culture is coming to campus and it is happening now. The fact that our students are being exploited to this degree is egregious and we should support any efforts by fellow classmates to unionize.