School-Specific Unionization is More Effective and Democratic

Brief Overview

  • No precedent for grouping all graduate students together under one union
  • Other unions typically only include TAs or a few small departments
  • A smaller, more specific bargaining group would decrease contract negotiation times
  • It is much easier to “opt-in” than to “opt-out”. If unionization shows that it is beneficial, other schools can always join later

In-Depth Overview

At the end of the day, we support the programs that believe that a union can serve their interests. However, we strongly feel that the collective bargaining unit proposed by GET-UP should only include schools and/or programs where a majority of students have indicated that they want to unionize. Yale’s micro-union model clearly demostrates that a department-by-department vote is feasible and respects the wishes of other programs that do not want unionization.

Furthermore, there is no precedent for a union to include all graduate students. NYU’s union only includes teaching assistants and explicitly excludes students in most science programs. As a result, there is no data on how unionization may affect doctoral programs in the sciences including enrollment, prestige, or productivity.

A bargaining unit that primarily includes students who support unionization is more likely to succeed in a union election and will likely hasten contract negotiations, which will only benefit those schools that want a union. Instead of trying to balance the disparate needs and concerns of twelve different schools and 3000+ students, the union could focus its efforts on schools where unionization could potentially help.

It is significantly easier to opt-in to a union than than opt-out after a union has formed. If unionization proves to be effective, schools that initially decided to remain autonomous might decide to unionize in the future. Regardless, each department and program should have the right to determine whether unionization is right for them.