Why We Are Organizing

From Fall 2016 to May 2017, we ran a card-campaign for union-recognition – collecting signed authorization cards from prospective members of the bargaining unit, to file for a union election. GSU filed authorization cards from a majority of graduate teaching and research assistants to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union-recognition election on May 8, 2017.

On August 8, 2017, the Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that a vote on union representation was to take place October 17 and 18. The ruling specified that voting eligibility would be determined using the following formula: “All graduate students, including Masters students, who have received compensation for work performed in a unit position in at least one quarter of Autumn 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Summer 2017, or Autumn 2017 who have not yet attained their degree or otherwise completed their course of study with the Employer.” All schools and divisions included in our initial petition were eligible to vote: BSD, Divinity, Humanities, PSD, SSA, and SSD.

Our union-recognition election was held on October 17 and 18, 2017, and resulted in a resounding victory for GSU; 1103 graduate employees versus 479 voted in favor of recognizing GSU as their union at the University of Chicago. We encourage all graduate students in the divisions included in the bargaining unit (BSD, Divinity, Humanities, PSD, SSA and SSD) to get involved as we work to get the university administration to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract for graduate employees on this campus. One way of getting involved is to sign a membership card with GSU, if you haven’t already:

Click here to sign a membership card today!

In the winter quarter of 2017, GSU, in conjunction with other grad unions across the US, pulled its petition with the NLRB. GSU made this decision to protect the legal precedent underpinning our ability to be recognized as workers. As the political makeup of that board changed under the Trump presidency, we felt the urgent need to pull our petition in order to protect ourselves and other unions. After we pulled this petition, we continued to build our union and demand the university administration bargain with us, now seeking direct recognition outside of the NLRB.

On the anniversary of our election, October 18, 2018, we held our first walk-out at 11:03 am, to commemorate the 1,103 people who voted yes. In 2018, we have continued to build our union by holding elections, ratifying a new constitution, and holding a day of grad labor visibility on November 28th, 2018.

If you are a current or former undergraduate or master’s student at the University of Chicago, you can show your support by signing this petition in support of GSU. Other supporters and allies of GSU can get in contact with us to show their support.

For more information on what various terms mean, the card campaign, and the process that GSU is using to form a union, check out our vocabulary sheet here. If you have more questions, you can get in touch with your Departmental Organizer, contact us, or peruse our general FAQ about unionization.