35 arrested in RA union sit-in
J. Fitzgibbons, Chronicle staff
A pro-resident assistant union supporter
is placed aboard a bus by UMass Police during a protest at
the Whitmore Administration Building on Monday. (Sarah Buchholz
sides in the simmering dispute over resident assistant unionization
upped the ante Monday as pro-union demonstrators occupied a Whitmore
office to demand that the University bargain with the group and
police were ordered to remove the protesters.
UMass Police arrested
35 supporters of the RA union, including seven undergraduate and
16 graduate students and four Hampshire College students. The other
seven taken into custody included representatives of the United
Auto Workers, which is seeking to organize the resident assistants.
Only four RAs were arrested during the incident.
Fourteen of the protesters
were forcibly removed from the office of Vice Chancellor for Student
Affairs and Campus Life Javier Cevallos. The sit-in followed a noon
rally at the Student Union by about 75 people who later marched
to Whitmore to protest the University's refusal to bargain.
The RA group has
accused the administration of breaking the law by defying a Massachusetts
Labor Relations Commission ruling that the 360 resident assistants
in campus residence halls have legally formed a bargaining unit.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Javier
Cevallos confronts protesters during Monday's sit-in in his
office. The group was later arrested. (Tibora Gircyzc-Blum
have declined to bargain in order to place the question of an undergraduate
employee union before the courts. "We are following the only
route available to appeal the MLRC's ruling on our resident assistants,"
During the sit-in, Cevallos
informed the group that they were violating the campus's Picketing
Code, which allows demonstrations in public areas during working
hours as long as the protests do not disrupt normal business. After
asking the protesters several times to leave the building, Cevallos
warned the group that they would be subject to arrest.
Most of the 14
in Cevallos' office went limp as police began to remove them, forcing
officers to carry them out of the building on stretchers. Two
members of an Amherst Fire Department ambulance crew and civilian
monitors observed the arrests.
also arrested other demonstrators in Whitmore and outside the building
after they attempted to enter the building, which had been closed
by police. Police placed the demonstrators on a bus parked at the
building loading dock.
When the bus began to
pull out, other protesters sat down to block its way and police
arrested 15 more demonstrators.
Those arrested were
taken to a makeshift booking facility at the Mullins Center. They
face charges ranging from disorderly conduct to resisting arrest
and trespassing. The group was arraigned Tuesday in Northampton
UMass Police watch as pro-RA union supporters
chant support for demonstrators inside Whitmore. (Sarah Buchholz
On Tuesday, a UAW Local
2322 official said the seven undergraduates who were arrested have
been suspended by the University for their role in the protest.
Citing privacy regulations, campus officials have not confirmed