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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Thirty-Five Arrested on UMass Amherst Campus

Both 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.

University officials 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,” said Cevallos.

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.

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 District Court.