Dear Fellow Graduate Students:
This past August, the National Labor Relations Board made a ruling that gave graduate student employees the right to unionize. We are reaching out to the graduate student body to discuss what this means for us, and why it may be in our best interests to take advantage of our new rights as graduate student employees.
Graduate student employees are vital to the mission of Tufts University. Our teaching and instructional support are core components of undergraduate education. Quality research at Tufts depends on graduate students being well supported and treated as an essential part of the university.
Yet, as graduate students, we lack a seat at the table where discussions and decisions are made about our working conditions. In conversations about the prospect of organizing a union with graduate students from across the university, several core themes have emerged. These include concerns about rising costs of living, absence of income over the summer, inadequate flexibility in health care coverage, and a lack of transparency in funding and other issues across departments.
In this time of uncertainty and change in higher education, we believe that forming our own graduate student union is essential to carrying forward Tufts mission of academic excellence and social justice.
In 2013, non-tenure track faculty at Tufts voted to form their union with SEIU Faculty Forward - a nationwide movement with over 75,000 members in public and private higher education. Across the country, graduate student employees are coming together and successful unionization campaigns have resulted in increased stipends and improved rights for our peers at Columbia, Duke, and across the country--we are not alone. By forming a graduate student union with SEIU, we can join our colleagues on campus and across the country in to improve our conditions and the quality of higher education as a whole.
If you’re ready to take the first step to making improvements at Tufts, you can sign a union authorization form (509.seiu.org/page/s/gradsforwardMA) today. You should also feel free to contact us directly to answer questions about how forming a union would raise standards for our jobs, students, and profession and to find out more about how you can get involved. We hope you will join us!