<p>Visit the <a href="https://www.georgetown.edu/operating-status">operating status page</a> for information on the university's current operating status.</p>
View of stained glass with the Georgetown University seal

Guidelines for Faculty and Staff on Graduate Student Union Organizing

Updated October 22, 2018

On October 22, 2018, the University announced an election that will give approximately 1,100 graduate student assistants the opportunity to vote on whether or not they would like to be represented by a union. While the University will remain neutral in the election, we recognize that you may receive questions from graduate students about the election and may have your own personal opinions on unionization. 

As you may recall, in late 2017 we learned that the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE) - a group of graduate students affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) - was interested in forming a union. After dialogue with these students and members of our community, we reached an agreement on April 2, 2018 that would allow an election among eligible students.

The agreement creates a new framework recognizing that graduate students’ relationship with the University is fundamentally an educational one, while also responding to their desire to have a stronger voice in the terms of their service as Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, and Teaching Associates (“Graduate Student Assistants”). Subjects for bargaining would encompass average service hours, stipend levels, benefits, and grievance procedures for service-related matters.

Should graduate students vote to be represented by GAGE/AFT, academic matters such as admissions decisions, curriculum and degree requirements, organization of programs, evaluation of graduate students’ academic progress, and assignment of research and teaching assistant roles will not be subject to negotiation. Earlier this year, the Executive Committee of the Graduate School, the principal academic policy-making body of the Graduate School, passed a resolution in support of this approach.

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