Blog

We won a raise!

For weeks, our colleagues on the bargaining committee have been at the table with admin negotiating our raise for next year. We took action together to show Brown that we were serious about meaningful compensation, and last week we finally reached a tentative agreement that brings us closer to fair pay. We won at minimum a 4.59% raise for all grads, on top of summer pay parity for Humanities and Social Sciences ultimately resulting in a 10.6% increase in HASS grads’ annual compensation!

We’re excited about this agreement, and now it’s up to all of us to vote on ratifying it. The vote will be open online for 24 hours starting Thursday, May 6th at noon EST. You can read the full agreement here.

We’ve also put together a pair of infographics below to help break down the agreement.

Image Text: The Math of Your Raise, Humanities and Social Science
Academic Year Base Stipend
FY21: $26,932.00
FY22: $27,650.30
FY23: No less than ($27,605.30+$750)*(merit pool increase)
FY21 -> FY22 (FY21 ends on 6/30/2021, FY22 begins on 7/1/2021)
with $750 increase: $26,932*2.5% = $673.30
$750 + $673.30 + $26,932 = $28,355.30
This amounts to a 5.28% raise over FY2022 (academic year).

Summer Base Stipend
(2021 Summer raise only for grads who haven’t received a proctorship or COVID fellowship)
FY21: $5,373.00
FY22: $7,373.00 <- $2000 increase
FY23: No less than ($9,201.75)*(merit pool increase)<- Now the same as STEM!

Total 12 Month Stipend
FY21: $32,305.00
FY22: $34,978.30
FY23: No less than $37,557.05 <- Thanks to summer parity, now the same as STEM!
with $750 increase: $26,932*2.5% = $673.30
$750 + $673.30 + $2000 + $32,305.00 = $35,728.30
This amounts to a 10.59% raise for the whole year FY2022.
Image Text: The Math of Your Raise, STEM Disciplines
Academic Year Base Stipend
(FY21 ends on 6/30/2021, FY22 begins on 7/1/2021)
FY21: $26,932.00
FY22: $27,650.30 <- 2.5% increase = $673.30
FY23: No less than ($27,605.30+$750)*(merit pool increase)

Summer Base Stipend
FY21: $8,977.32
FY22: $9,201.75 <- 2.5% increase = $224.43
FY23: No less than ($9,201.75)*(merit pool increase)

Total 12 Month Stipend
FY21: $35,909.32
FY22: $36,807.05
FY23: No less than $37,557.05
with $750 increase: $26,932*2.5% = $673.30
$750 + $673.30 + $224.43 + $35,909.32 = $37,557.05
This amounts to a 4.59% raise for the whole year over FY2022.

Graphics by Jesse Marie Keruskin

Your Rights and Protections in Disciplinary Hearings

Did you know that you have the right to union representation in any meeting or phone call where you could be questioned about your job conduct or work performance? Some examples include meetings with course coordinators about negative feedback from your students, or meetings where you may be questioned about your compliance with COVID policies. Now that we have a union contract, we have the right to due process at work.  

Any grad worker employed in a bargaining unit job (that includes you!) has what are known as Weingarten Rights. These rights mean that if you request union representation during an investigatory meeting, our employer cannot question you until you have had a chance to privately discuss the situation with your union rep, and our employer must permit the union rep to join you while you are questioned.  

Your union has your back, and as part of the bargaining unit, the law is on your side too. We encourage you to insist upon your right to union representation: “I respectfully request that my union representative or steward be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.”

Worksite stewards are responsible for ensuring representation in workplace disciplinary hearings. If you have an issue in the workplace, including if you are facing disciplinary action, your steward is the first person you should reach out to! If you do not know who your steward is, or need help contacting them, please email us at comms@glounion.org.

How to Reach Your Union Officers

Now that we’ve chartered our local and elected our first executive board, we’re building new systems of communication for union members. If you would have any questions or would like to communicate directly with elected leaders, you can email any e-board member directly using the emails below. If you aren’t sure who to contact, or you have an urgent message that needs immediate attention, feel free to use our online contact form (https://glounion.org/contact-us/), which will redirect your message to the appropriate person.

We also encourage you to join us for our General Members’ Meetings, where we come together as a union to chart our path forward. All GMMs will include open floor time for any member to discuss issues of concern, ideas, and experiences to all of us.

President, Rithika Ramamurthy: president@glounion.org
Vice President, Kaity Hajdarovic: vice.president@glounion.org
Secretary, Carin Papendorp: secretary@glounion.org
Treasurer, Keenan Wilder: treasurer@glounion.org
Communications Coordinator, Talie Massachi: comms@glounion.org
Political Director, Dennis Hogan: political@glounion.org
Social Justice and Accountability Coordinator, Jared Loggins: social.justice@glounion.org
Organizing Coordinator, Audrey Massmann: organizing@glounion.org
Lead Organizer for Workers in Master’s Programs, Claire Crews: masters@glounion.org
Lead Organizer for International Graduate Workers, Ana San Martín: international@glounion.org
Lead Organizer for Physical Sciences, Max Weinreich: physical.science@glounion.org
Lead Organizer for Life Sciences, Corinne Hutfilz: life.science@glounion.org
Lead Organizer for Humanities, Sherena Razek: humanities@glounion.org
Lead Organizer for Social Sciences, Siraj Sindhu: social.science@glounion.org

Raises and Rights Campaign Kickoff

We are kicking off our Raises and Rights campaign! For those who don’t know: in our first contract, we won the right to reopen our contract yearly and return to the table to negotiate raises for all grad workers at Brown. In bargaining last summer, the university predicted that it would suffer imminent financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic, and used these projected losses as an excuse to offer a raise amounting to a cost of living adjustment.

But in an email to the Brown community last November, Christina Paxson reported that Brown saw “strong financial results in FY20, driven by excellent financial management and investing as well as the continued strength of fundraising efforts.” The WSJ reported that Brown’s endowment went above and beyond expectations, growing by 12.1% to a record 4.7 billion dollars. At every turn, the university has made money during the crisis, and lost much less than it expected.

Grad workers at Brown have not shared in this experience. We have kept going at our teaching assignments and lab experiments, at our own expense and at our own risk. We have spent our own money to import our offices into our apartments, risked our health to keep our departments running, and have continued to serve as the labor that makes Brown run. We are bargaining for a big raise, and we are calling on Brown to come to the table on COVID health and safety to protect grad workers at their jobs. We’re also demanding that the university agrees to open bargaining, so that all members can attend the sessions where our pay will be negotiated. Here’s what you can do to help our union win:

Our work is what allows the university to forecast strong financial health, year after year— and now more than ever, we deserve to be paid for that hard work, and for all that we put in to keep doing it despite the current conditions. Join us in our efforts to put money back in grad worker pockets and protect each other at work, so we can secure equity and safety for all.

Run for GLO Steward!

We’re taking the next step in building our union’s democratic structure by announcing steward elections! Stewards are key union representatives and they do an important job to ensure that our contract is enforced and our rights are protected. More than that, our Stewards Assembly will play a critical role in helping run our union (you can read more about the duties of stewards on pages 11-13 of our constitution).

The period for nominations begins today and runs through February 19; steward candidates must receive five nominations from members in their worksite. In worksites where more than one candidate reaches the nomination threshold, an election will ensue to determine who will hold the position. You can nominate yourself or a colleague with the form here!

Our organizing coordinator and lead organizers have divided our membership into several worksites based on either department or location (these sites are listed on the nomination form). Each worksite will select one steward, whose job it will be to organize the worksite, monitor contract abuses and grievances, represent grads on work-related matters and in grievances, and serve as an important conduit of information between union officers and committees and grad workers on the job. As a member of the Stewards Assembly, stewards set goals for the Executive Board and Committees, participate in shaping our priorities and campaigns, and initiate referenda on political and union matters.

Becoming a steward is a great opportunity to help your fellow grads and become more involved in our union. It’s also an important part of ensuring transparency in our union structure and fair union representation of all grads. We encourage everyone to seek nominations: incoming stewards will be trained, and we welcome members of all years, ages, identities, and levels of union experience. Because we want to ensure that our elected representatives are as diverse as our membership is, we especially encourage women, people of color, queer, trans and gender nonconforming grads, and disabled and neurodiverse grads to run for steward.

The nomination form is here; you can nominate yourself or someone else at your worksite. If you’re running, you might consider reaching out to colleagues in your worksite to ask for their nomination. If you’re considering running but you aren’t sure, or you have questions about the position, you can reach out to GLO’s executive board and we’ll be happy to have a conversation with you about the work. We’ll also be talking more about steward elections at our upcoming General Members Meeting on Wednesday, January 27 at 6pm – RSVP here!

We look forward to a vibrant Stewards Assembly and an exciting new chapter for GLO.

COVID-19 Appointment Extensions

As part of our Union’s contract negotiations, we won year-long COVID-19 appointment extensions for grads whose research was disrupted by the pandemic, and who had advanced to candidacy by Spring 2020. Earlier this year, we arranged extensions for seventh years in need; and now, we are pleased to announce that the application is open for graduate students who will need an appointment (funding) extension starting next semester (Spring 2021). You should apply for this extension during the last semester of your guaranteed funding, and applications will be opened each semester. In January, the application period will open for grads who would otherwise run out of funding at the end of Spring 2021.

The application can be found in UFunds, under COVID 19 Appointment Extensions. It will ask you to explain how your progress toward degree completion has been hampered by the continuing pandemic. Based on our agreement with the University, we expect the applications to be granted to almost all applicants; however, if you are ineligible or denied an extension, you can appeal through the COVID-19 Extension Committee, which has Union member representation.

Your Union has your back as you complete this paperwork. Send all questions pertaining to the application, eligibility or appeals process to Graduate_Dean@brown.edu, but make sure to CC gradlabororg@gmail.com. This will allow us to keep track of any issues that may arise throughout this process.

Check out our FAQ or email gradlabororg@gmail.com with questions. We’ll continue to fight to protect all grads from COVID-19 and financial insecurity.

Candidate Statements

As you know, we are in the middle of electing the first Executive Board of our Union! Ballots have been mailed out to all Members and must be returned (postmarked) by Thursday, October 29th, 2020.

So that Members can make informed decisions, each candidate has provided a statement. In addition, we are holding a General Members’ Meeting (GMM) on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 from 6-7:30pm, which will feature a brief explanation of election procedures, and short speeches from candidates. Members will have several opportunities to ask questions of the Elections Committee and of the candidates. Note that two positions are contested: President and Coordinator for Social Justice and Accountability. To receive the meeting Zoom link, please RSVP to the GMM.

Email gradlabororg@gmail.com to update your mailing address if you have not received a ballot.

Candidate Statements

PResident

Candidates:
Lubabah Chowdhury
Rithika Ramamurthy

Lubabah Chowdhury

Listening and kindness: the two most important skills I have learned in my four years organizing for GLO and in my decade of experience as a student activist and organizer. After tens, if not hundreds, of organizing conversations with graduate student workers at Brown, I have learned that building a feminist, anti-racist labor organization requires us to listen to each other and to see ourselves in each other. As President of GLO, I pledge to listen more than I speak, patiently work through conflict and tension, and to center GLO’s feminist and anti-racist values in each action I take to organize for worker power here at Brown. My platform, which you can read here, is the result of what I have learned from numerous organizing conversations with graduate student workers across Brown campus and through my work with GLO’s Social Justice Working Group. I will fight alongside you for a strong second contract. I will increase transparency and communication between the Executive Board and GLO members with monthly newsletters and my annual report. And most importantly, I will advocate for feminist and anti-racist initiatives both here at Brown and in the larger umbrella organizations GLO is a part of. I promise to fight alongside you for a better, freer future for all.

Rithika Ramamurthy

As co-chair of the GLO bargaining committee, I fought hard over the course of 15 months to improve the material conditions of grad workers by winning us a contract that provides us the work protections and benefits that we deserve. As president, I will continue to organize and lead a powerful union that is a force for political good and labor rights at the university, be a strong voice in the labor movement both in Rhode Island and nationwide, and oppose Brown’s austerity program in higher education and the Providence community. I’m running with Action at Work because I believe that collective action is the best approach to holding the university accountable and advocating for shared democratic governance within higher education.

Vice President

Kaitlyn Hajdarovic

As co-chair of the bargaining committee, I helped us win a strong contract that increased our protections in the workplace. As VP, I will oversee the grievance committee to make sure every grad worker has protections from discrimination and harassment, make sure the details of the contract are enforced, and continue to organize towards workplace rights for all at the university. I am running with Action at Work because I believe we can only succeed in our vision of a more just workplace when we all work together. 

Secretary

Carin Papendorp

Since I first came to Brown as an undergrad in 2013, I’ve been dedicated to holding the University accountable to its students and workers. I’ve written op-eds calling for an end to unpaid undergraduate research, higher pay for TAs, and greater transparency surrounding big donors. I will continue this track record of accountability in the role of Secretary. Thorough records of all general member meetings, negotiations with the University, and grievances will help us enforce our new contract. I’ve been a GLO member since Fall 2019 when I started in the Neuroscience Graduate Program. I helped manage GLO social media accounts during our fight for a contract. Going forward, I want to see a strong, equitable, and transparent union that serves to further the interests of all grads. During the COVID19 pandemic, grads were some of the last to leave campus and the first to return, highlighting the fact that Brown works because we do. I’m running with Action at Work slate because a large, engaged union will best allow us to improve the lives of all grads and advocate for our anti-racist, feminist, anti-xenophobic mission.

Treasurer

Keenan Wilder

I have been a GLO member and active organizer since I came to Brown in 2017. I helped organize with other grads during our union election and contract campaign. Since then, I also took the lead running the online votes held to ratify our new contract and constitution. I am proud to be running with an inspiring group of organizers as part of Action at Work because I believe that organizing is the only way to build a strong social justice union. I look forward to expanding our union’s new formal organization as a platform for building our power on campus and beyond.

Political Director

Dennis Hogan

I’m running with the Action at Work slate because I believe in our collective vision of growing our membership, securing more protections for grad workers, and getting members involved to build our union power and fight for a better world. Since joining GLO in 2014, I have been an organizing committee member, helped negotiate our union recognition agreement, and organized during our election and contract campaigns. I currently serve as the electoral coordinator for Reclaim RI; this summer I built a field operation that helped four progressive candidates win General Assembly primary elections. I am excited to help shape our political agenda and use our connections and resources to support activist and political work at Brown, in Providence, in Rhode Island, and within the labor movement.

Coordinator for Social Justice and Accountability

Candidates:
Melody Chapin
Jared Loggins

MELODY CHAPIN

My goal as Coordinator for Social Justice and Accountability is to establish a strong pillar of intersectional solidarity within our overall GLO culture. I commit to a grassroots effort that centers grads with the least access to institutional power– those at greatest risk of mistreatment by our employers and colleagues alike. Only such an anti-racist grassroots approach can build the type of collective, intersectional solidarity that will make our union a formidable and united presence on campus.

As Social Justice and Accountability Coordinator, I commit to:
– Building a Union Culture of Transformative Justice
– Establishing BIPOC-centered and anti-ableist procedures that will benefit all grads
– Protecting international grads
– An anti-racist, abolitionist future at Brown

For more information, see my full platform here.

JARED LOGGINS 

I am running with Action At Work because I believe unified labor power is the most important form of solidarity we have to push against austerity, carceral policies, and the indigities graduate workers face on a daily basis. As Social Justice + Accountability Coordinator, I want to guide actions and organizing around racial justice that will engage the union as a whole. I’ve had the privilege of leading local political education efforts with Reclaim Rhode Island on abolition, defunding the police, and prison divestment. One thing I want to build is a formal network for the union that strengthens racial and class-based analysis, and allows us to connect these social issues to the university context.

Coordinator for Communications

TALIE MASSACHI

Our union has done a lot of good securing a contract, but now I want to help GLO communicate with its members in a clear and transparent way, and help members easily communicate their needs to union leadership. It’s not grads’ job to seek information; we need to build a union that reaches everybody. Here’s how we do it:

Actively seek input from grads of all demographics on what resources will boost engagement in our union
Standardize our branding so we can present as a strong and united group
Build a Communications Committee with the capacity to keep all online resources up-to-date
Provide a secure chat and secure phone number for in-the-moment issues; right now online communications are mostly one-way. We need to build methods of listening.  

I’m running with Action at Work because this first executive board will set a precedent for the future of our union, and we need a solid structure of decision-making, with a strong commitment to anti-racism and transparency. This is necessary to hold the University accountable, not just for ourselves but for future generations of grads.

actionatwork.wordpress.com

Coordinator for Organizing

AUDREY MASSMAN

Conversations are the building blocks of labor power. In conversations, we build trust, and we hold each other accountable to take action for justice at work. I have had hundreds of one-on-one conversations with grad workers at Brown to help coordinate our fight for a fair contract. As labs reopened, I co-founded our union’s COVID-19 Self-Defense Group through which we organized and won better PPE, regular testing for on-campus workers, and TA choice to teach online. Now I’m running with the Action at Work slate because, to realize our union’s potential, we need to recruit and support union leaders in every single department and work location.
actionatwork.wordpress.com

Lead Organizer for Workers in Master’s Programs

Claire Crews

I am dedicated to building connections among masters students and making the union an approachable, tangible resource for grad students across departments no matter the duration or size of their programs. I am running with Action at Work because I believe that we will be able to advocate most effectively for students in all departments if we have a presence in all departments. As a fiction writer, I believe that the first step towards a more equitable future is imagination and worldbuilding. 

Lead Organizer for International Graduate Workers

Ana San Martín  

During my first year here at Brown, I collaborated with people in the union in the response group to the crisis with ICE and the vulnerable situation of international grad student workers (incoming, returning and remaining). As an international myself, I´m aware of the many intersectionalities involved in the process of claiming and gaining work rights and fighting discrimination and abusive practices in the workplace. Ensuring that an integrative (feminist, anti-racist and anti-xenophobic as well as anti-ableist), globally political vision from non-US-national workers is taken into account in all these processes is a priority for me. Action at Work will realize this vision of defending international grads’ rights in the workplace by broadening and diversifying our union leadership, and taking responsibility for all grads’ needs!

Lead Organizer for Humanities

Sherena Razek  

I am dedicated to building union membership and involvement across the humanities departments and advocating for our rights as grad workers. Winning a fair contract is a testament to the strength of our labour power, but this is only the beginning! I believe in a union committed to transformative approaches to social, racial, gender, economic and environmental justice both on and beyond our campus, from Palestine to Turtle Island. I am running with Action at Work alongside experienced grad and community organizers to ensure that we are an organization grounded in collective action and solidarity.

Lead Organizer for Life Science

Corinne Hutfilz  

I’m running with Action at Work because each of us understands what it takes to build an organization that’s strong enough to put graduates at the forefront of University policy. My work for the union revolves around achieving COVID protections for grads. This is policy that determines our health, our lives, and the risks imposed on our loved ones, so I believe grads have every right to shape it to our needs. Instead, decisions are still largely made without us. My position as GLO representative to the Research Continuity Committee has been a big step in granting grad workers a say over their pandemic working conditions, but it’s not nearly enough. It’s my goal as part of Action at Work to raise grad worker voices to a level that administration can no longer ignore.

Lead Organizer for Physical Sciences

Max Weinreich

I’ve been involved in the union for a long time, first as the Math department organizer, then in the Bargaining Committee, and most recently on the Constitution working group. Through it all, I’ve been one of the few organizers from Physical Sciences, making sure that the issues particular to our division get attention from administrators and other union organizers alike. I’m running with the Action at Work slate because I know firsthand from my work on the Bargaining Committee that this leadership team will fight the Brown administration on tough issues, like COVID preparedness and financial security, and win.

Lead Organizer for Social Sciences

Siraj Sindhu

I’m running with Action at Work because I am eager to build an institution that is highly responsive to the issues grads are facing. My conversations with colleagues since coming to Brown have given me a deep appreciation for the challenges that are faced by grads in social sciences — including, for example, problems with teaching loads, insufficient office space, funding during the summer and support for fieldwork, dissertation data collection and processing, job market preparation for non-academic work, and more. I have experience standing up for grads from serving on the union’s bargaining committee last year, and I am eager to continue supporting my colleagues, growing our union, and building a more just university.

DHS Threatens International Grads

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) threatened international graduate students again, with a new proposed rule which would make it very difficult for international graduate students to legally remain in the United States to continue their education. The proposed rule would shorten the duration of F-1 and J-1 visas, which are meant to cover the length of an academic program, to four years in general, with essentially no exceptions or opportunities for renewal. Most cruelly, the proposed rule limits visas for students from many majority-Muslim countries and many countries in Africa to only two years. It is nothing less than open discrimination, no doubt meant to further the racist and xenophobic program of DHS.

Some of us are international students who could be affected; others are domestic students who count international students among our friends and colleagues. Either way, we must fight for international students’ rights to be here. We are asking our members to take action against this rule by writing public comments. We invite you to use this template in drafting your unique comment.

The public comment period for the new international student ruling is currently set to end October 25th. Small an act though it may seem, the law requires a government official to read every public comment before the proposed rule can be enforced. The more comments there are, the longer it will take for the rule to take effect – a strategy we were able to use successfully in the past to delay the NLRB’s proposed rule against graduate unions at private universities. We’ve also seen how public pressure prevented some proposed DHS rules from taking effect over the summer. If we fight together, we can defeat this rule and protect international graduate students’ rights.

Officer Election Timeline

Now that we’ve ratified our first contract and our constitution, it’s time to elect the first Executive Board of our Union!

Timeline

  • October 1: Nominations due
  • October 6: Ballots postmarked to Members
  • October 14: General Members Meeting (including speeches by nominees)
  • October 21: Completed ballots due
  • Beginning of November: Elected Executive Board takes Office


Nominations were due on October 1st, and our Elections Committee is hard at work tallying the (virtual and physical) mail nominations.

Ballots will be sent out via the United States Postal Service on Tuesday October 6th, and are due back (postmarked) by Wednesday, October 21st. Email gradlabororg@gmail.com to update your address to receive your ballot.

In order for all Members to make informed decisions about who to vote for in this inaugural election, we are planning a General Members Meeting on Wednesday, October 14th. Candidates for each position will have the opportunity to speak about their qualifications or goals in running for their nominated position. Information about this meeting will be emailed out to Members in the week leading up to the meeting.

By making your voice heard in our first leadership election, you’re helping to ensure a direction for our union that’s truly representative. We want to encourage all Members to participate in this process and vote for those candidates who will best represent you and our Union.

For questions about the elections please reference the FAQ, or email sugse.elections@gmail.com.

Introducing GLO (Graduate Labor Organization)

We ratified our constitution!

Check out the Constitution Basics for a brief tour through the main parts of the Constitution.

This is a huge milestone for our union. In addition to setting forth our union’s purpose and organizational structure, the constitution features our new name—Graduate Labor Organization (GLO)—which reflects our commitment to inclusivity. It also contains information about members’ rights and obligations, including membership dues, which we set at 1.65% of our salaries. Dues go towards enforcing our contract, organizing, and other costs of operating a union. For two years, teachers and nurses across the country have given us a bit of their paychecks to fund our campaign for our union and our first contract. Now we can be financially self-sufficient!

We’d like to take a moment to thank our two staff organizers, Joel and Karen. They have been invaluable in the fight for graduate worker rights at Brown, and we are honored and grateful that we can continue to work alongside them!

We’re working on changing our email address, website, and social media to reflect our new name. We appreciate your patience during this adjustment period.