The primary responsibility of the bargaining committee is to negotiate an initial collective bargaining agreement with the WPI administration’s team. Election to the committee obligates each member to represent and fight for the best possible contract for all members of the bargaining unit.
The committee will be trained and assisted by experienced negotiators from the Union who will also participate in the negotiations with the institute. See below for specific responsibilities.
- Develop initial bargaining goals for ratification by union supporters across campus, using surveys, other relevant contracts, membership feedback from other sources, etc.
- After ratification of initial bargaining goals, develop and present contract language proposals to the WPI administration’s bargaining team for negotiation.
- Attend negotiating sessions with the admins and Union internal caucuses or meetings in order to advance our bargaining agenda.
- Assess, analyze and respond to the institute’s bargaining proposals and develop union counter proposals.
- Keep the membership and allies informed and educated about the negotiations and the process.
- Coordinate with the organizing committee, including attending the organizing committee meetings weekly and going to various working groups, and other activists on a strategic campaign to win a strong contract that can be recommended for ratification.
- Work with department leaders to help mobilize workers as necessary to help keep membership engaged as we negotiate our agreement.
- Make a recommendation to the membership on whether to approve a contract or take other actions (e.g. a vote to authorize the committee to call for strike action if necessary).
Committee members should assume that the time commitment will be significant. Note that the schedule of bargaining itself is subject to negotiation with the WPI administration’s bargaining team.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a union?
We are student workers forming a union in order to improve our research and working conditions at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Our work as researchers and teachers not only drives the academic mission at WPI, but also produces scientific knowledge that can benefit the greater community. While we work across many specializations, our dedication to our work unites us all.
By forming a student worker union, we can build a stronger, more democratic voice for us at WPI, with more power to negotiate for improvements and to secure our rights and conditions into a legally-binding contract.
Forming a union with the United Auto Workers (UAW) in particular means joining tens of thousands of student workers and other higher education employees who are already part of the UAW–this includes student workers and other academic workers at Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts, University of California, and University of Washington. By working together with these and other academic unions across the country, we can also build political power beyond WPI to impact funding policies at the national, state, and local levels that shape our experience in Academia.
What does the elections committee do?
- Must remain neutral throughout the election. They cannot run for any position in the Local while serving on the elections committee, nor can they help campaign for any candidates running.
- Must determine the best methodology to hold the election
- Must approve all official communications about the elections that are sent to all members
- Must determine if graduate workers who accept nomination are eligible to run for the position they accept
- Must meet with candidates prior to running to ensure they are aware of all the rules of the election
- Must oversee the election to ensure its integrity
- Must vote to accept the results of the election, announcing the final tally
What is the diﬀerence between the Graduate Student Government (GSG) and a union?
Both a strong union and a student government can play an important role in improving the lives of WPI student workers. GSG is an institute sponsored and supported student body that makes it possible for student workers to participate in numerous social and career development opportunities as well as advocacy eﬀorts; however, it is not an alternative to a union.
While GSG can make recommendations to the administration on behalf of student workers, it cannot engage in collective bargaining. Unions and associations like the GSG often work together at academic institutions where both exist.
What is the bargaining committee?
In order to negotiate a contract between the WPI-GWU graduate workers and WPI, 5 graduate workers will be elected to bargain on behalf of graduate workers.
Who is eligible to run for bargaining committee?
All graduate workers who are members of WPI-GWU are automatically eligible to run for the bargaining committee. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your nomination. Nominations will be submitted to all members of WPI-GWU who will then vote to elect the graduate workers they want to represent them.
Here is the eligibility language:
Any WPI graduate students who are currently employed by the university according to the categories outlined by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) WPI election (i.e., All graduate students enrolled at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who are employed to provide instructional services, research services or administrative services in academic departments. These include Teaching Assistants (such as teaching assistants, PLAs, GLAs, readers, tutors, and graders), all Graduate Assistants and all graduate Research Assistants (regardless of funding sources) employed by the Employer). Also eligible to vote are students who are not currently employed, but were employed in the bargaining unit for at least the Spring Semester of 2022 or the Fall Semester of 2022.
What do I have to do as part of the bargaining committee?
- Leading up to bargaining with administration, an average of 3-4 hours a week is expected of the bargaining committee as they research the needs of graduate workers (ie. surveys, walkthroughs, etc.)
- During bargaining, WPI-GWU bargaining members are expected to sit down with administration to write a contract and to get the contract ratified by WPI-GWU general members. An average of 3-5 hours a week can be expected at this time.
- Bargaining committee members must be or become an active member of the WPI-GWU organizing committee which meets once a week for one hour.
What happens if less than 5 people run for the bargaining committee?
In this case, those who ran will be considered uncontested and no election will be required.