Nearly 70 community members gathered on the steps of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center Tuesday afternoon to show their support for the newly formed Labor Organization of Community Coordinators.
The rally follows LOCC’s press release last Friday announcing that a majority of community coordinators, live-in residential assistants employed by the University’s Office of Residential Life, intend to unionize. If successful, the group will become a part of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals/American Federation of Teachers Local 6516 along with the Teaching Assistant Labor Organization and the Graduate Labor Organization.
At the rally, community coordinators gave speeches, chanted slogans — “Don’t be a LOCC block” among them — invited external speakers and recounted grievances with their roles. Organizers then led the group to University Hall to deliver a letter to the office of President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 requesting voluntary recognition of the proposed union.
Several local politicians were also in attendance at the rally, including state Reps. David Morales MPA’19 (D-Providence), Enrique Sanchez (D-Providence) and state Sen. Tiara Mack ’16 (D-Providence).
Members of LOCC are demanding higher compensation, a better-defined contract and more representation in ResLife’s decision-making process, they told The Herald at the rally. Organizers also plan to learn more about CCs’ priorities in future open forums.
Currently, Brown CCs receive a stipend of $10,500, which covers the University’s $9,650 housing fee for the school year. Resident assistants at other universities — including the Rhode Island School of Design — receive room and board for the school year, members of LOCC noted.
“We want to be compensated fairly for the hours that we put in comparable to RAs at other colleges,” Pei-Jun Huang ’26, an organizer with LOCC, said in a speech at the rally.
“I know of several CCs, myself included, who have one to two other jobs on campus simply to afford to stay here at Brown,” Alisha Guerrero ’24, another organizer with LOCC, said in her speech at the rally. “How are we supposed to foster community and support residents when we have to worry about how we’re going to afford to exist here?”
When CCs previously proposed increased compensation for their role, supervisors told them that their responsibilities were not comparable to those of RAs at other schools, according to CCs who spoke to The Herald.
In an email to The Herald, Senior Associate Dean and Director of Residential Life Brenda Ice did not directly respond to CCs’ claims at the rally.
“Residential Life will be working directly with the CCs and student organizers of LOCC to address any concerns,” Ice wrote.
At the University, CCs are responsible for promoting inclusive environments within their resident communities, establishing community expectations in support of student wellbeing and aiding the administrative operations of ResLife and the Office of Campus Life, among other obligations. CCs are expected to work 16 hours per week across 17 weeks every semester, according to the position’s job description.
Additionally, organizers asked for more clarity and protections in their contract. Guerrero said the CC contract’s vague nature allows supervisors to impose last-minute obligations.
“I know a lot of CCs who are invited last-minute to meetings and then threatened with penalization if they don’t show up,” Lia Lubit ’24, a CC, said in an interview after the rally.
Lubit said that she is “lucky” that she has a “very nice supervisor.” But given the vagueness of the CC contract and the past experiences of other coordinators, she is “fairly confident that something will go wrong” and will need further protection.
“Our overall movement is to have solidarity amongst CCs … to make sure we have a voice and seat at the table where decisions over our working conditions are made,” said Gerardo Santizo ’26, an organizer with LOCC, in a message to The Herald.
The unionization effort was inspired by other resident assistant union movements at universities such as Columbia, Tufts University and Wesleyan University, as well as TALO’s recent successful contract negotiation with the University, members of LOCC told The Herald.
CCs only began organizing in early September, learning “how to have union conversations” from GLO representatives, Guerrero said. “From there, we kind of just grew our organizing committee.”
LOCC currently has signed authorization cards giving the proposed union the right to bargain on their behalf from a supermajority — over 65% — of the 140 CCs, Guerrero said, allowing them to ask the University for voluntary recognition. The group is requesting University response by Monday, Oct. 9 at 12 p.m.
The University has not yet indicated whether they will voluntarily recognize the union.
“We will review the materials they presented, determine the best next steps and respond directly to the student organizers,” wrote University Spokesperson Brian Clark in an email to The Herald.
CCs and rally attendees said that they are optimistic about the future of the unionization effort and student labor more broadly on campus.
“All workers deserve to be protected by a union,” said TALO organizer Ronnie Shashoua ’25 in an interview with The Herald. “We want a wall-to-wall union. I think that’s when we will see that all the workers on this campus are being treated fairly.”
CCs emphasized that the University depends on their labor to function.
“We are the ones on the ground with residents every single day, listening to their concerns, getting to know their names,” said LOCC organizer Audrey Wijono ’25 in a speech at the rally. “We are ResLife and ResLife is us.”
Ashley Cai is a Senior Staff Writer from Los Altos, California covering the staff and student labor beat. She is a Brown-RISD Dual Degree studying computer science, IAPA and graphic design. She is also a member of The Herald's Tech Team.