Since GAGE announced that a majority of graduate workers at Georgetown supported the formation of a graduate union five months ago, we have repeatedly seen what we can achieve when we join together to fight for our interests. We saw it last November, when we mobilized with thousands of graduate students across the United States to oppose the Grad Student Tax. We saw it again less than a month later, when we gathered on Red Square to demand that Georgetown recognize our moral and legal right to decide for ourselves whether we want a union. Our efforts ultimately convinced the administration to begin negotiations with GAGE for a union election through the American Arbitration Association (AAA).
Today, we are happy to announce that GAGE-AFT and Georgetown have signed an agreement to hold a graduate unionization election under the auspices of the AAA. This agreement, the first of its kind between a private university and a graduate union in the United States, guarantees that, when we win, the administration will come to the table and bargain with us on the issues that matter to graduate workers at Georgetown, including wages, health care, family leave policy, fee and tuition waivers, and grievance procedures. To find out more about our agreed upon mandatory subjects of bargaining check them out here. This is not an exhaustive list of things we will bargain over, it's just the first step.
It is hard to exaggerate the significance of this agreement for graduate workers both at Georgetown and across the nation. Just five months ago, Georgetown denied that we were workers and refused to bargain with us for a union election. The administration also signaled its willingness to ask President Trump’s anti-labor appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to overturn the 2016 decision allowing graduate workers to unionize. Today’s agreement with Georgetown is the direct result of the pressure that we have exerted together with our community allies through rallies, petitions, flyering, social media, and other actions. This agreement not only lives up to Georgetown’s commitment to just employment but also sets a precedent that graduate unions at other private universities across the country can follow as they continue their battle for recognition. Again, organizing works.
Of course, an election agreement is not the same as a contract. And while we will celebrate this victory and the end of the semester at a barbecue at TBD on Friday, April 20, there is still plenty of work ahead. We need a big turnout for the election to place us in the strongest possible position for bargaining. That means motivating every one of our members to show up at the polls and vote “Yes.” Consequently, we will continue to build our support among graduate workers and reach out to faculty, alumni, undergraduate students, and other members of the Georgetown community. To help GAGE win its election campaign, you can either talk to your department organizer or email us at GAGEorganizing@gmail.com.
In the meantime, though, let’s celebrate!