We are writing to share an update on the effort a group of graduate students initiated to unionize and be represented by Teamsters Local 170. As we shared on February 28, this is a formal process that is overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The proposed union 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 & Sciences departments and the International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) program.
As a University, we accepted the student organizers’ proposed bargaining unit (the universe of graduate students to be represented by the union and subject to collective bargaining), voluntarily agreed to an NLRB-overseen election, and assumed a neutral position on the question of unionization. We continue to feel strongly that the control in making the decision to unionize should be made by the students who would be represented by the union and not by others on their behalf.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the election was held and 103 of 169 eligible graduate students participated, with 100 voting in favor of unionization. With this outcome, the next step is to begin collective bargaining, with the union formally representing the students. We are prepared to engage in that process as soon as the parties are ready to do so. Our sincere commitment continues to be doing everything we can to ensure our students’ concerns are carefully and thoroughly addressed.
David B. Fithian