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Support our fight to get recognized
as what we are:
Graduate student workers!
Graduate Students United (GSU), the labor union of graduate workers at the University of Chicago, was established in 2007. At the time, many graduate students were not getting financial support, and the salary for TA was $1500 per quarter: one of the lowest in the country. Over the past decade, the University community saw many improvements to graduate student life and working conditions, in large part thanks to the continuous campaigns of GSU to make the university a better and fairer work place. Yet, there is one major achievement that we are still fighting for: to get recognition as workers and as a union.
In October 2017 we held a democratic vote about unionization under the NLRB, following the Board's ruling in 2016 (in the case of Columbia) that graduate students at private higher education institutions should be allowed to unionize. Voter turn-out was remarkably high (over 70%) and graduate workers voted overwhelmingly for unionization: Out of 1582 voters, 1103 voted Yes for GSU. The University administration, who the day before the vote urged graduate students to cast the ballot, because "your voice truly matters," announced that it will challenge the validity of the election because it doesn't view us as workers.
The university appealed the election, hoping that the NRLB, now controlled by the Trump administration, would overturn the Columbia ruling. In February 2018, along with multiple graduate unions across the country, GSU withdrew its petition for recognition from the NLRB, in order to protect the legal right of graduate workers to unionize. Since then, we have been petitioning for direct recognition from the university. Peer institutions have recognized their grad unions, for example: Harvard, Columbia, Brown, NYU, Georgetown, American Uni., and Brandeis, not to mention dozen of other institutions, public and private. But our university's top administration has been adamant in its refusal to recognize us for what we are - workers - and it keeps referring to an organization of more than 1500 of its employees as "an undefined group of graduate students".
Yet, we remain unified, organized and strong. In October 2018, to mark the first anniversary of our election victory, hundreds of us walked out of classes and labs at 11:03 AM (to signal the number of Yes votes), in what was described as the largest protest this campus has seen since the Vietnam War protests. In June 2019, in the last week of the academic year, we conducted an extensive work action, and for 3 days withheld our labor and picketed campus. Hundreds of graduate workers received massive support in their action from undergraduates, contingent faculty, tenured faculty and other university and non-university workers. Our work action transformed the campus for these 3 days, and demonstrated not only our resolution and strong support, but also how the university community can rally behind a just cause.
Our fight for recognition continues. And to keep the fight going, we need your support. You can support our cause by making a one-time or a monthly / quarterly donation to our campaign. We wholeheartedly appreciate your support.
Thank you! And solidarity forever!