Quick Ref
To: Graduate Students, Faculty, and Academic Appointees
From: Daniel Diermeier, Provost
Subject: Results of Graduate Student Union Election
Date: October 19, 2017
Today the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) counted the results from the recent election that allowed select graduate students serving in teaching and research positions to vote on whether they wish to be represented for collective bargaining by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
Of the 2,457 students in the bargaining unit, 1,103 students voted in favor, 479 students voted against, two ballots could not be counted and 873 did not vote.
Graduate education is at the core of the University’s mission in research and education, and the goal of graduate education is to ensure that students can reach their fullest potential for scholarship and discovery in their chosen fields. These values have guided the University’s decision to pursue the NLRB process. The NLRB has a long history of recognizing that graduate assistants are foremost students, not employees under federal labor law. Our University has joined several other universities in asking the Board to revisit its recent reversal of position on this legal question, and our request remains pending before the Board.  In this regard, we have concerns about the impact a graduate student union would have on our mission of creating and imparting knowledge through direct mentorship, teaching and individually guided research and writing.
Regardless of the outcome of the legal process, we will continue to support our graduate students and respect their contributions. Since 2007, we have invested more than $2 billion in direct financial support for graduate students, from stipends to health care and more, in the absence of union representation. In addition, the University supports the salaries of faculty who teach and mentor graduate students; invests in libraries and research facilities; and provides graduate-specific services like UChicago Grad, the Family Resource Center and more. Graduate students from across the University have worked directly with faculty and staff continuously to improve graduate education and graduate student life. We recognize that there remains room for improvement, and the University is committed to continuous efforts to enhance support for graduate students.
We will continue to seek input from students and faculty about these areas for improvement as well as opportunities to support graduate students in their journey to become leaders in academia or their chosen profession.