UChicago GSU Hardship Fund
Graduate Students United (GSU) has recently established a Hardship Fund. We are initially seeking funds to immediately support a portion of our membership who have been engaged in a coordinated pressure campaign against the University administration regarding Student Services Fees. Our initial goal is to raise at least $5,000 by the end of this academic quarter (March 19, 2022).
This past month, after over a year of committed campus-wide organizing by hundreds of graduate workers, the university administration bowed to union pressure and moved to cover the Student Services Fee for all doctoral students at UChicago.
Until just recently, graduate student workers at UChicago were assessed a quarterly fee of $432 ($1296/year). In Winter 2021, GSU members began withholding Student Services Fees as part of a campaign to pressure the administration:
1. To cancel a fee that did not materialize as accessible services during the pandemic and ensuing financial crises; and
2. To fight institutionalized wage theft on grad workers who were promised livable stipends and care.
Outstanding balances of unpaid fees assessed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic remain unpaid by graduate workers for services not rendered.
Since Summer 2021, the Bursar has retaliated against graduate workers, at times coercing people into paying $1000-1500 bills with less than one week’s notice. Retaliations have come with threats of “administrative leave of absence” which entail the loss of teaching appointments, stipend, and health insurance.
Our union membership consists of differentially compensated workers with unequal financial burdens and abilities. The GSU Hardship Fund will make available emergency funding to grad workers who need more support than the University currently offers. Funds will be disbursed to graduate students who need assistance to pay down their fee balances immediately. Any remaining funds will be used to provide emergency aid to graduate student workers experiencing financial hardship.
GSU handily won an NLRB election in 2017, but due to severe union-busting appeals enabled by the Trump administration, we were forced to withdraw our petition for NLRB recognition. We continue to organize against a blatantly anti-democratic institution as an unrecognized union without dues. Our union runs on our collective unpaid labor and an anti-capitalist spirit of mutual aid in which we give what we can and take what we need. As such, we ask those who are able to help relieve the financial burdens on our colleagues and strengthen our union capacity.