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ASU Employees Form Union To Lift Their Voices, Concerns Amid Pandemic

Arizona State University employees have announced they’re forming a union, becoming the second group of public university employees to do so this year. 

The union is something that employees have wanted for a long time, but it became a greater need after staff felt ASU administrators dismissed their concerns on in-person classes during the pandemic, said Laurie Stoff, a principal lecturer at Barrett, the Honors College and a member of the organizing committee for the United Campus Workers chapter at ASU.

"We saw unionization as the means to achieve the kind of collective power necessary to have our voices heard," Stoff said. 

ASU employees were also inspired to launch their own union after seeing University of Arizona employees form their own earlier this year. 

Celeste González de Bustamante, an associate professor at the University of Arizona and a founding member of its union, said they’re looking forward to working with ASU’s union to advocate for higher education. 

“We’re going to be working at the state level to try to increase the investment in our institutions in the state of Arizona," she said. 

At an institutional level, Stoff says the ASU union will push for safe and equitable working conditions for all employees. That includes getting greater access to counseling services to faculty, staff and students workers, who Stoff said have been under tremendous stress and increased workloads during the pandemic.

“What we’re really looking forward to is creating the best possible working and studying environment at ASU," Stoff said. "We seek the same kind of positive change that the university as a whole wants to see.” 

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.