We won a contract!

Yesterday, the Bargaining Committee reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) for our first union contract! This contract represents a huge win for all graduate-student employees. We are the first grads at an Ivy League institution to win recognition of our status as workers and our value as contributors to the University’s mission. For this first 3 year contract, we’ve won the following: 
*Note: “Graduate workers” are grads who, as a component of receiving their stipend, receive work appointments at some point in their program.


  • Two-semester appointment extension in light of COVID-19 for third-, fourth-, fifth-, many sixth-year Ph.D students, and any other PhD student who has advanced to candidacy by the end of Spring 2020.
  • One-time $400 cash bonus for all graduate workers in light of financial pressure caused by the COVID crisis.
  • Grievance procedure with remedial measures outside of Title IX.
  • Relief for graduate-worker parents: more backup childcare, a better subsidy, and increased health care coverage.


  • We have one-year appointment extensions for those Ph.D students who have advanced to candidacy, and were in the research or dissertation phase of their program in spring semester 2020, and have not applied for graduation. We have established a committee with the University, with equal representation for graduate workers, to implement the extensions.
  • The University will reimburse medical expenses related to COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 treatment, effective July 1, 2020 through December 30, 2021 to all graduate-student workers on the Student Health Insurance Plan.
  • One-time $400 cash bonus for all graduate students in light of financial pressure caused by the COVID crisis.


  • Graduate workers will have an effective pay increase of 3.7% in year one.
    • We won a 2.5% stipend increase.
    • We won a one-time $400 cash bonus for all graduate students in light of financial pressure caused by the COVID crisis.
    • This raise comes at a time when most groups on campus are getting no pay raise or losing their raise
  • In year two and three, we have a guarantee that we will get a raise at least equivalent to the faculty raise, with the opportunity to negotiate for more.
  • We created a new job category, called TA II, to recognize TAs who are responsible for the teaching of a class. TA IIs will earn a top-up payment of $750, starting in the second year of the contract.
    • Teaching Fellows (instructors who design their own class) will earn a top-up of $1,000, up from $250 previously, in the second year of the contract.


Health care

  • 75% health care and dental coverage for all dependents of PhD and MFA graduate students, including spouses/partners; this number was previously 50% and only applied to children.
  • Establishment of a Health Reimbursement Plan for all graduate workers (or if unable to establish, will receive cash payment) for years 2 and 3 of contract, with respective amounts of $500 and $600.

For parents

  • Backup childcare increased to 10 days per year, up from 5.
  • Childcare subsidy increased to $5000 per child, per year. It was  $4,000 per year, per household.
  • If both parents are graduate student workers at Brown, both parents can utilize the parental relief accommodation.


  • We negotiated paid sick days, holidays, and bereavement leave.


  • We have created a strong grievance procedure to protect graduate workers from harassment, discrimination, and hostile work environments, so that the University is not the sole party holding itself accountable.
  • We won protections from retaliation, and every claim of retaliation will be investigated.


  • Graduate workers will have access to remedial measures outside of Title IX, including no-contact orders and academic accommodations. If the University failed to provide adequate remedial measures, such inaction or wrongful action on their part would be grievable under the contract.


  • Graduate workers have protections against pressure to work more than 20 hours/week.
  • Departments will commit to family-friendly scheduling of work activities.
  • TAs and TA IIs will have final say on class size increases over established section size. 


  • We established TA IIs as a new job category in recognition of the higher workload some TAs face.
  • The University committed to sending appointment letters at least 1 month in advance of the start of classes.
  • Graduate workers will have access to textbooks, equipment, and software to complete work assignments.


Our contract will generally cover PhDs and Masters students who work as Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows, Research Assistants, and Proctors. 

Because of our work as a union through collective bargaining, the University has stated their intent to extend most of our contractual rights to all graduate students, regardless of their appointment. 


For more information, please register for our TA TownHall on Monday, June 8th,where our Bargaining Committee will go over all sections of the Tentative Agreement and take your questions.
Please remember to attend our GMM Thursday, June 4th at 6pm. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow, and are so proud and excited to keep growing our movement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s