University of Chicago Graduate Employees File to Form Union


U_Chicago_filingToday, a strong majority of graduate employees at the University of Chicago filed authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a formal union recognition election. Members of Graduate Students United (GSU) personally visited the regional NLRB office to deliver the cards, signed by grad workers from seven of the university’s divisions. The union will be affiliated with the AAUP, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

The next step is an official election for union recognition, which will conclude by the end of June, with more than 2,000 graduate workers eligible to vote.

“Grad employees are the backbone of the University of Chicago,” said Amanda Shubert, a fourth-year doctoral student in English. “As graduate teaching and research assistants, we perform essential work and deserve a seat at the table where decisions are made that affect our lives, those of our students, and the broader community. Forming this union allows us to speak with a strong collective voice.”

“At some point in their time at the University of Chicago, all undergraduates are taught by grad instructors,” said Claudio Sansone, a third-year doctoral student in comparative literature and classics. “We are their teachers and mentors, and students report that graduate instructors often provide the highlight of their UChicago education. It is time for our work to be recognized officially and respected by the administration.”

Last year, the NLRB formally classified private colleges’ graduate teaching and research assistants as workers.

Learn more about Graduate Students United’s effort here:


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3 thoughts on “University of Chicago Graduate Employees File to Form Union

  1. How it worked when I was a student at UoC, 40-some years ago: In the Math Department, there were enough outside grants (NSF, I suppose) to support first-year grad students without anything being required of us; in the second year, we were assigned as assistants–apprentices, in effect–to professors, sitting in the class to see how it’s done, occasionally teaching under the professor’s eye, and grading homework. We didn’t really work for our livings till third, fourth, and fifth years; and beyond that, we weren’t promised any support.

    I don’t think I’ve seen it that way any place else; I guess it’s only possible in a very well-supported department.

  2. Pingback: U. of Chicago Professor Defends Graduate Student Union Drive | ACADEME BLOG

  3. Pingback: U. of Chicago Faculty Call for Open Debate, Vote on Grad Employee Union | ACADEME BLOG

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