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Guidelines for Faculty and Staff on Graduate Student Union Organizing

Updated April 2, 2018

The Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE), a group of Georgetown graduate students affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), seeks to have GAGE/AFT recognized as the collective bargaining representative for certain graduate students on the Main and Medical campuses who are engaged in teaching and research.

The University and GAGE/AFT recently reached an agreement on the terms of a voluntary election agreement that reflects and honors the principally academic relationship of graduate students to the University while enabling them to have a greater say in the terms of their service as Graduate Student Assistants. A copy of the election agreement can be found here. The agreement defines the Graduate Student Assistants who are eligible to vote in the election.

We encourage faculty and staff members to engage in dialogue with graduate students about the possibility of Graduate Student Assistant unionization.

We have received questions from a number of faculty and staff members about how they may respond to students and colleagues about issues relating to a graduate student union.  We hope the guidance below will prove helpful in answering questions about union organizing activity among graduate students who provide teaching, research, or other services for the University.

What you may do

  • Encourage students to talk openly and freely with one another and share their views.

  • Encourage students to become informed by visiting gradunion.georgetown.edu.

  • Respectfully share your own views with students about the issues

  • Encourage respectful conversations on the issue of union organizing. We respect that faculty may have different views on the matter, and welcome open dialogue.

  • If an election is scheduled, encourage students to educate themselves, get engaged in the discussion, and vote.

What you may not do

  • DO NOT ask whether students support a union or not.

  • DO NOT tell a student how he/she should vote.

  • DO NOT ask whether students have spoken with a union or otherwise are participating in a union organizing campaign.

  • DO NOT create the impression you are monitoring union meetings or communications between students and representatives of a union.

  • DO NOT ask what union organizers are saying or doing.

  • DO NOT ask students to report back to you concerning union meetings, events, or communications.

  • DO NOT treat students who are openly supporting unionization any differently than those who are not.

  • DO NOT treat representatives of a union differently than any representatives of any other outside organization that wants to speak with members of the University community.

  • DO NOT suggest that the University will suffer financial or other hardship if students are represented by a union.

  • DO NOT make statements that could be construed as threatening a loss of financial aid or benefits if a union organizing campaign is successful.