No Demonstration of Fiscal Responsibility

Brief Overview

  • Dues would likely be $500-700 a year, with no way to opt-out. Nearly $200 from each student would leave Penn each year and go to the AFT
  • GET-UP has not demonstrated it is fiscally responsible enough to handle the $600,000+ it would take yearly from students
  • Strikes can adversely affect work or experiments, and even result in fines from the union if you break the union’s rules

In-depth Overview

If we as graduate students decide to unionize, we need to be aware of all the possible positive and negative consequences of our decision. In order to create an informed opinion, we need to know exactly how GET-UP is planning on advocating for us, and details on what their advocacy will entail. However, GET-UP has failed to provide an action plan with clearly articulated solutions. If we are to transfer our rights to GET-UP, we need to know exactly how they plan on operating.

Union dues are not finalized until a contract is ratified, but based on dues/proposed dues at NYU, Temple, Cornell and GET-UP’s own estimates, we believe 1.5-2% of stipends is a reasonable assumption. GET-UP argues that it has full autonomy in setting member fees at Penn, however the amount of money collected must be sufficient to cover both GET-UP’s operational costs and per capita fees paid to AFT-PA ($11.03/month), AFT national ($19.30/month) and AFL-CIO ($0.55/month). It is important to note that most graduate students would qualify for paying half dues for AFT as our stipends are below the full due cut-off ($43,358). GET-UP has no control over the approximately $180 that would be taken from our stipends each year and go to the AFT.

GET-UP also has full authority to collect additional fees (likely 1-1.25%) for their operational costs (such as their off-campus office in West Philly, happy hours, flyers, etc). GET-UP has not released any financial information or proposed budget so it is impossible to say what exactly what is included in their operational costs, or how much more additional dues they would need to collect. GET-UP has not demonstrated any fiscal responsibility, or transparency in regards to its budget. We have no idea how GET-UP spends its money, or even if they receive assistance from outside organization. Given a bargaining unit of roughly 2000 students, GET-UP would be receiving $600,000+ yearly from other students. How can we trust that GET-Up would be good stewards with our money if we don’t even know their budget?

Unions use the threat of a strike as leverage to extract concessions from the employer. However, strikes have the potential to severely impact our progress on our degrees, as not working would be more detrimental to research students than the university. GET-UP has not released any details about their stance on strikes, or how one would operate. If there is a strike, labor laws allow unions to legally fine members that break union bylaws and continue to work during a strike. The union also has full authority to fine any member for violation of union rules.