Prioritizing Forming a Union Over Student Concerns

Brief Overview

  • The union purchased voter registration information and used Penn’s directory to find out where graduate students live and their contact information
  • GET-UP has shared our personal information with people who are not affiliated Penn, such as AFT employees
  • Bargaining unit was unilaterally determined by GET-UP, with no input the affected school. The unit was gerrymandered to exclude only enough anti-union students to help the union win the election
  • The majority of BGS students do not want to be a part of GET-UP, but were included against their will
  • Attempted to hold the election over summer, in which many students would not be able to vote
  • Incredibly antagonistic to fellow students who decline to sign an authorization/membership card or want to revoke their card

In-depth Overview

There has been a consistent lack of transparency about how GET-UP is running their campaign.  GET-UP has been visiting the homes of graduate students unannounced for the past several weeks. We have been vocally opposed to their recruitment tactics. GET-UP recently updated their website to state that they use purchased PA voter registration information to canvas student homes. The union has also utilized Penn’s directory to obtain our phone numbers and email addresses along with other personal information. Students have been reported being called or added to email lists without prior approval. Despite numerous attempts at removing themselves from contact lists, students have reported that they still have to deal with phone calls and lab/home visits.

The union has also shared our personal information with people outside of UPenn. AFT employees have been handling many of the home and lab visits, and several students have reported that AFT reps have contacted them personally. We simply have no idea who GET-UP has shared our information with, and to what extent.

GET-UP unilaterally determined the bargaining unit, with no input from the affected schools. The proposed bargaining unit can only be described as gerrymandering. The union is trying to exclude SEAS and Wharton (a decision they call “strategic”), but include BGS. Polls commissioned by student governments and our own petition indicate SEAS, Wharton, and BGS are heavily against unionization. In fact, more than 50% of BGS students signed our petition. By excluding SEAS and Wharton, but not BGS, GET-UP is attempting to maximize their dues and chances of winning the election.


In their petition for election, GET-UP attempted to hold an election over the summer, a time where many students, particularly international students, are away from campus. By attempting to hold an election over the summer, GET-UP would be in essence disenfranchising a significant portion of the student body. Secondly, many first year students wouldn’t be able to vote either, despite being the class that would be the most affected.

Our friends and colleagues have also felt they were not fully informed when they signed GET-UP’s authorization cards. If you signed an authorization/membership card, you have the legal right to revoke it, whether in person or via mail/email. However, GET-UP has been incredibly antagonist toward revoking cards. Students have been met with resistance and have been required to visit GET-UP’s off campus office to revoke their card, which is legally dubious. Their actions once again beg the question about why they have been so hostile to their fellow students who have changed their minds.