Graduate students at the University of Chicago made the historic decision to unionize. According to a National Labor Relations Board tabulation relayed by The Chicago Maroon, 92% of 1,851 uncontested voters voted in favor of unionization.
If the university accepts the results, the next step for the union will be contract negotiation with the university administration. It is unknown what the contract will look like or when negotiations will begin and conclude.
However, as the Maroon notes, the university “can file an objection about the election’s administration within five business days, or, as it did in 2017, challenge graduate students’ legal right to unionize.”
The Graduate Students United (GSU) platform has promised to fight to improve working conditions and compensation for graduate student employees and to offer them “a stronger voice in university decision-making.” Notably, GSU highlights “required diversity trainings for faculty and staff” as an example of a “significant benefit” secured by unions at other universities.
UChicago is only the latest in a series of university unionizations across the country. In just the last two months, Boston University, Yale, and Northwestern—among others—have voted to unionize. Like Northwestern, UChicago would now be affiliated with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.
UChicago GSU’s victory comes after a decade and a half of organizing and advocacy since its formation in 2007. The outfit claims to have “overwhelmingly won a[n October 2017] union-recognition election,” which the university did not recognize.
The Thinker will continue to follow the school’s response and the developments of the new union.
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