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Graduate Student Unionization

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Earlier this month, a group of Clark University graduate students informed us that they had begun the process to unionize and be represented by Teamsters Local 170. This is a formal process that is overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency. The proposed union, per the student organizers’ petition, would involve a defined group of students including masters and Ph.D. students who are enrolled and teaching and/or conducting research for others in Graduate Arts and Sciences departments and the International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) program.

Upon receiving the students’ notice, we indicated that we would work through the process with the intention of coming to an amicable resolution. That has not changed.

As a University, we feel strongly that a decision to unionize should be made by the graduate students who would be represented by the union and that they should do so through the democratic process of an NLRB-overseen election. In that way, the control in making this decision remains with the students themselves and is not assumed by others on their behalf. Further, an NLRB-overseen election will ensure an open, fair, and objective determination of the question before these students.

Today, we informed the NLRB that we will accept the student organizers’ proposed bargaining unit (the universe of graduate students to be represented by the union and subject to collective bargaining) and that we voluntarily agree to an election. We’ve also informed the graduate student organizers that we will remain neutral in the election and will not campaign for or against unionization.

We encourage all members of the Clark community to learn more about the unionization process and which aspects of a graduate student’s efforts at Clark will be governed by collective bargaining. There are many resources available online, including through the NLRB.

We look forward to the next steps in this process and to continue working with our graduate students. Our strongest desire and our firm commitment is to provide the best possible educational experience for our entire student body.


David Fithian

Sebastián Royo