Statement of Support for the Right of Graduate Students to Unionize

We the undersigned faculty join the University of Chicago AAUP Advocacy Chapter in supporting the right of graduate students to form a union.

We affirm the statement of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that “graduate assistants, like other campus employees, should have the right to organize to bargain collectively” and “must not suffer retaliation from administrators or professors because of their activity related to collective bargaining” (AAUP Resolution on Graduate Employee Organizing Rights, 2004). Moreover, we believe that this is consistent with the principles stated in the University of Chicago’s “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” issued in January of 2015.

We request that our fellow faculty members refrain from organizing departmental meetings aimed at graduate students on the issue of unionization. Even when such meetings are cast as informational, the inherent power differential between faculty and graduate students can easily result in a coercive and silencing atmosphere, especially when those with official positions such as department chairs and directors of graduate studies are present. If such meetings are held, however, and particularly if members of the university administration are to be present, we request, in the spirit of providing as much information as possible to students on this issue, that departments seek to include representatives from Graduate Students United, and that these representatives be allowed an adequate opportunity to communicate their points of view.

We also ask that the University of Chicago administration remain neutral and not use university funds or other institutional resources to oppose the unionization effort. We ask that the University not employ any union avoidance consultants. Any communications from University personnel speaking in their administrative capacities about the unionization effort should not discourage graduate student participation in or support for the initiative. Additionally, we ask that the administration make clear to administrative personnel that a graduate student’s decision to invoke her right to organize can play no role in making decisions about that student, and that the University will tolerate neither intimidation nor retaliation against graduate students who invoke their right to organize.

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