Election Information: GETUP Withdrew Petition. No Election will be Held!

On Friday February 16th, GET-UP officially withdrew their election petition, which means that there will not be a union election for the foreseeable future. The move follows similar withdraws at other universities like Yale, Chicago, and Boston College. The request to withdraw was likely requested by AFT and AFL-CIO in order to help preserve the Columbia decision.

On December 19th, the regional NLRB office released their decision (click here to read it) regarding the unionization campaign at Penn and ruled there will be an in-person election to decide if GET-UP will become the union for:

All graduate students providing instructional services and/or performing research in Annenberg School for Communication, Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS), School of Design, Graduate School of Education (GSE), School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Nursing (SEAS), School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2), and the Wharton School.

Details on an election date and location have not been released yet. While we anticipate legal proceedings may delay an election, all students should start to educate themselves on pros/cons of a graduate student union at Penn and vote when the time comes. The vote is won by simple majority.

In July of this year, GET-UP petitioned the NLRB to unionize graduate students in BGS, SAS, Annenberg, Nursing, SP2, Design, and Education but excluded students in Wharton and SEAS, despite actively campaigning in all schools. This was gerrymandering (which they deemed “strategic”) to maximize the union’s size/chances of winning an election, as SEAS and Wharton students expressed strong opposition to unionization by poll and petition. Notably, the strongest opposition to unionization came from within BGS and more than 50% of all BGS students signed a petition against unionization, which GET-UP refused to acknowledge.

Ultimately, the NLRB ruled it was inappropriate to exclude Wharton and SEAS (see page 23 and 24 of the NLRB decision):

The Petitioner’s (GET-UP) proposed unit is not a classification-based unit because it seeks to exclude other employees in the same classification. Nor is the unit sought by Petitioner drawn along departmental lines. Rather, Petitioner seeks employees in seven schools, while seeking to arbitrarily exclude two schools…


Instead, Petitioner appears to have used the extent of its organization as the sole determining factor in deciding what collection of students it would seek to represent.

Thus grad students in all 9 schools will be eligible to vote in the election.

While a union may have been appropriate for certain departments or schools, a single union for all schools will diminish the quality of our graduate experience and we will continue to provide fact-based arguments to this end. We are also strongly opposed to the involvement of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in the Penn community.
In our experience, AFT employees do not hesitate to use threat of legal action to silence student opposition to unionization. Moreover, the AFT breeds a culture antithetical to our own at Penn, such as the refusal to attend an informational session on the pros and cons of unionization and use of student information without our consent (see http://cgsurankandfile.org/ for Cornell’s experience with AFT, which mirrors our own).