Skip to content

Graduate Student Union

Collective Bargaining Agreement

Starting October 12, 2022, a collective bargaining agreement between Clark University and Teamsters Local 170 has governed the terms of employment for master’s and doctoral students in Graduate Arts and Sciences.

Under the union contract, these students are called graduate assistants.

Read the contract


We have put together the following FAQs to explain who is eligible to join the union and to provide information about how you may be impacted. We will periodically update these FAQs as other common questions arise.

We recommend that all students who are eligible for membership read the entire contract, which includes more detailed information.

Generally, masters’ and doctoral students who are serving as teaching assistants (TAs), research assistants, and course assistants in Graduate Arts and Sciences (including International Development, Community, and Environment) are covered by the collective bargaining agreement. Students who are not engaging in instructional or academic research services are not part of the bargaining unit and therefore not covered by the agreement. The definition of eligibility is specified in the contract, as follows:

  • Ph.D. and masters students enrolled and working in the Graduate Arts and Sciences and International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) programs who are employed to provide instructional or research services, including teaching assistants, graduate instructors, part-time instructors, graduate teaching assistants, graduate research assistants, course assistants, research assistants and researchers.
  • Excluding undergraduate students, post-baccalaureate students who work or provide services outside of Graduate Arts and Sciences and International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) programs, all other faculty, lab assistants, office clericals, managers, and guards and supervisors as defined in the National Labor Relations Act.

No. This contract covers you only in the semesters when you are assigned assistantships.

Compensation rates for doctoral stipends and wages for hourly work performed by eligible students are set by the contract for three years. Article 16 of the contract offers the details.

Unions set rules regarding membership internally.  Questions on union eligibility, rights, dues, and other matters should be addressed to your union representative.  Please note that the collective bargaining agreement between the University and the Teamsters Local 170 provides that as a condition of employment for Graduate Assistants.  Graduate Assistants in Arts & Sciences (including IDCE) shall either become union members and pay the union dues, or in lieu of becoming a union member, pay the union agency fees.

If you choose to join the union, dues will be required. Those who choose not to join will be charged an agency fee that covers the cost of union representation. Please consult the Teamsters Local 170 with questions.

Any activities for your course work and dissertation is considered academic work to fulfill your degree requirements, as opposed to wage work that is performed on behalf of the institution.  The contract therefore does not cover work conducted for your progress toward degree completion.

Tuition remission is a financial award by the university to contribute to your academic work toward completion of your degree. As such it is considered academic, not an aspect of wage labor that is governed by the contract.

No, the condition of offer of work is contingent on your good academic standing.  You need to maintain good academic standing to be considered eligible for Graduate Assistantships.

We recommend that all eligible students to review the entire contract. Those who have additional questions can contact their school or union representative.