Make your voice heard—join the Bargaining Committee!

Today we got one step closer to a fair contract: we announced the procedure to elect a bargaining committee. See our election announcement, or below, for more information on how to get involved and represent your fellow grad workers. We need you!



Bargaining Committee Election Announcement

The Bargaining Committee (BC) is an elected group of graduate workers that will meet regularly with administration to negotiate the best possible collective bargaining agreement. Graduate workers on the BC have the important role of representing and advocating for the diverse interests of membership at the negotiation table. Our goal is to maximize representation of identities and working conditions. The BC will:

  1. Work to win a contract that serves the interests of the whole membership;
  2. Attend and participate in all bargaining sessions with administration;
  3. Work with counsel to write contract language;
  4. Communicate regularly with the Organizing Committee (OC) and membership;
  5. Meet at least once per week throughout the bargaining process

Union members will support the BC by forming working groups dedicated to issue-based research and by organizing actions that empower the BC with a strong negotiating position. Serving on the BC is a serious commitment. Bargaining committee members should expect long and varied hours depending on the stage of bargaining. This is also a unique opportunity to build both leadership and negotiation skills. No prior organizing or other specific volunteer experience with SUGSE is needed.

Structure of the Bargaining Committee
The Bargaining Committee (BC) will consist of up to twenty-two (22) members from the bargaining unit. Unit members will run for seats by discipline. There will be a minimum of three members on the BC from each of the divisions below:

  • (3) Engineering and Physical Sciences
  • (3) Humanities and Languages
  • (3) Life Sciences (BioMed and Public Health)
  • (3) Social Sciences

In recognition of the multiplicity of graduate labor experiences, there are seats open based on types of labor and labor conditions. These seats are available based on the following criteria:

  • (1) terminal master’s graduate worker
  • (1) international graduate worker who is on an F-1, M-1, or J-1 visa
  • (1) graduate worker who is or has been a primary instructor at Brown
  • (1) graduate worker parent

Similarly, in order to advance our goal of representation, there are seats available to workers who self-identify with the following historically underrepresented and/or institutionally disempowered categories:

  • (3) graduate workers of color
  • (1) graduate worker with a disability
  • (1) LGBTQ graduate worker
  • (1) womxn graduate worker in STEM

In understanding that identity is complex and multiple, we strongly encourage the candidacy of members who self-identify with more than one of the listed identities.

Nomination Process
Graduate workers who (a) are part of the bargaining unit and (b) have signed a union membership card are eligible to be nominated for election to the Bargaining Committee. This includes SUGSE members who are currently working as a research assistant (RA), a teaching assistant (TA), or a proctor or plan to do so in the Fall 2019 semester, even if they are not currently working in one of those capacities. Self-nominations will be accepted, as will nominations from current graduate students who have signed a union membership card.

From Feb. 6 to Feb. 18, a call for nominations will be posted to our website and distributed via email. The nomination and election process will be overseen by the Election Committee (EC), which consists of the five undersigned volunteers. To make a nomination for the BC, individuals should contact the Election Committee at no later than 5pm on Monday, February 18, with the name, email address, and department of the person you wish to nominate. Any questions about process may also be directed to the EC at The EC will contact all nominees to verify whether they accept their nomination. To support a fair process, no one on the EC can be nominated.

To accept a nomination and become a candidate for the BC, individuals will be asked to provide the EC with a photo and complete a brief questionnaire identifying themselves, including their name, department, year, whether they are pursuing a master’s or PhD, the kind of work they do, and any other factors that they would like to share (up to 150 words). This information will be posted on the SUGSE website so that members can learn about candidates prior to voting. AFT staff members will not campaign for any candidates in bargaining committee elections. Candidates are encouraged, but not required, to attend the General Membership Meeting on Thursday, February 21 where they will have an opportunity to briefly address members in attendance.

Election Process
The election will be held online for seven (7) days beginning Thursday, Feb. 21, after the General Membership Meeting. A unique link to a ballot will be sent to every SUGSE member via email. Every member will cast up to three (3) votes per discipline for a total of up to twelve (12) votes. This email will reiterate the structure of the bargaining unit and will also include candidate statements. After polls close at 11:00 pm on Wednesday, Feb. 27, there will be a grace period before the results are announced on Friday, March 1. The grace period will allow people to report and resolve technical difficulties.

The twelve (12) discipline-based seats will be filled by the candidates receiving the most votes in their respective disciplines.

Coordination with Organizers
The BC is expected to meet weekly and to send a newsletter updating all members at least quarterly. At least one BC member should attend weekly organizing committee meetings in order to coordinate member actions in support of bargaining. Power at the bargaining table comes from an organized, involved union membership!

Audrey Massmann, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Babak Hemmatian, Cognitive Science

Hilary Rasch, English

Keenan Wilder, Sociology

Pablo Valente, Behavioral and Social Health Sciences


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