In April, MIT graduate research assistants and teaching assistants voted to unionize in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Three-quarters of the 3,823 graduate RAs and TAs eligible to vote cast ballots, with 66% voting in favor of representation by the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE).
The election was held after MIT declined to voluntarily recognize the MIT Graduate Student Union (MIT GSU) as the official bargaining representative for graduate workers, citing concerns about overstated promises regarding what collective bargaining can achieve and the importance of letting grad students choose for themselves. MIT urged students to consider the risk of strikes and lengthy negotiations, costly union dues, possible negative effects on student-advisor relationships, and UE’s limited experience working with universities.
The NLRB had not determined whether MIT’s approximately 900 grad fellows may unionize, so they were not eligible to vote and aren’t currently part of the union, which now represents 54% of grad students.
MIT GSU’s goals include affordable housing, free dental insurance, fair work expectations, a safe and equitable work environment with dependable accountability, and equal academic and professional opportunities for international students.
“We have been heartened by our community’s clear commitment to the well-being and success of our students,” wrote Chancellor Melissa Nobles and Vice Chancellor Ian A. Waitz in a letter to grad students. “We agree that there are areas where MIT can improve, and we share many of the same goals as the MIT Graduate Student Union. With the election outcome now clear, we will continue to work alongside you to improve MIT for all of our students.”
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