Graduate workers formally file to hold union election, University responds


Daily file photo by Seeger Gray

Workers march past Deering Library on Nov. 11. The union filed last week to have a formal secret ballot election with the National Labor Relations Board.

Davis Giangiulio, Assistant Campus Editor

After Northwestern administrators decided not to recognize NU Graduate Workers’ union with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, the group has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election for the formal recognition of its union.

The petition was filed Nov. 17 and will set up the process for a secret ballot vote. 

In an email to graduate students obtained by The Daily, Provost Kathleen Hagerty and Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education Kelly Mayo wrote that they will work with the NLRB and UE to determine the election’s guidelines and regulations.

The email included links to newly created pages by the University for graduate students to consider what NU views as the drawbacks and benefits of unionization.

While the University didn’t use these pages to explicitly endorse or oppose unionization, one page said the process could lead to less flexibility in stipends, funding and scheduling and could weaken the ability to solve individual conflicts. 

Another page said a third-party union could “create an increasingly regulated environment” that could change academic relationships. 

Meanwhile, NUGW has argued that unionization will allow graduate workers to collectively organize for better compensation, healthcare and accountability from the University. 

“We encourage all graduate students to learn as much as you can about unionization, to ask questions, express opinions and thoughtfully consider all options,” Hagerty and Mayo wrote in the email. “The degree of the impact of a possible graduate student union is unclear at this point, and we ask you to become informed and involved in considering this proposed change.”

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Twitter: @GiangiulioDavis

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