To: Graduate Students
From: Eric Isaacs, Provost and Sian Beilock, Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives
Re: Graduate Student Unionization
Date: May 17, 2016
Over the course of the last several months, faculty, students and administrative leaders across campus have been in conversation about the possibility of graduate student unionization at private universities. The discussions have provided participants with opportunities to ask questions, voice concerns, share information, and express opinions about the graduate student experience here at the University.
Because many questions arose during these conversations, in the Winter Quarter we sent an email with a link to Frequently Asked Questions and other information on unionization. In an effort to provide you with useful and timely information, we write again to let you know that we have updated the Frequently Asked Questions page with more information and added a new section called Did You Know? that addresses key issues that have arisen on multiple occasions during our discussions around campus. We will continue to add new information and resources as they become available, so please be sure to check back for updates.
We understand this is a very busy time of year, but it is vital to you, your peers, and future students that you become informed about the issues at hand. Under current federal labor law, graduate student research and teaching assistants at private universities are not considered employees and thus do not have a right to unionize. However, there are two cases (involving Columbia University and The New School) pending before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that will revisit this issue in the near future. We encourage you to educate yourself about the possibility of graduate student unionization by engaging in conversations with your peers, Deans of Students, and faculty members; by taking a moment to visit the Provost website; and by staying abreast of the larger national conversation around the changing landscape of graduate education.
It is critical that graduate students take an active role in our community. We hope you will join these important conversations about the future of graduate education at the University of Chicago.
Eric D. Isaacs
Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Physics, the James Franck Institute, and the College
Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives
Stella M. Rowley Professor in the Department of Psychology, the Committee on Education, and the College