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.

Ratifying our constitution

After years of organizing and taking action together, graduate workers at Brown are finally starting the academic year with a fair contract! For the first time, there are enforceable provisions protecting our working hours, our wages, our health benefits, our right to respect in the workplace, to name a few. Congratulations on these huge wins!

With our contract negotiated, we can now take on new projects: holding Brown accountable to the commitments made in the contract, ensuring the university community is protected from the covid-19 pandemic, reimagining safety and realizing racial justice at Brown, and so much more.

Before we embark on these projects, we will need to ratify a constitution that governs the basic functions of our union and elect union leadership who will take on key responsibilities of running the organization each of us has helped to build. Members are invited to join a constitution town hall to be held Wednesday September 2nd at 6 pm, at which we will go over the basic features of this document and undertake some activities to demonstrate how we can make use of it to fight for what we need at Brown. We will also discuss a proposed budget so members can make an informed decision about how much revenue we need to collect to support our fights to make Brown a better place to work. We will circulate a draft of the constitution a few days ahead of the town hall. After the town hall, we will hold an online vote to ratify our constitution on September 3rd and 4th.

Please register for Wednesday’s town hall here. Our first election will be held by U.S. Mail, so please take a moment to update your mailing address here, even if you cannot attend the town hall event.

Ratified!

We are pleased to announce that members have ratified our collective bargaining agreement with university administration with a 95% yes vote. The final count was 446 yes to 25 no. This is a huge step toward securing rights and recognition for graduate workers at Brown, and the first collective bargaining agreement of its kind in the Ivy League. We’ll be reaching out in the coming weeks with ways to plug in and enforce our agreement.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Graduate assistants working over the summer should expect to see their raise reflected in their first paycheck after 1 July 2020.
  • Graduate workers should expect their $400 in COVID relief by 31 October 2020 paycheck.
  • Graduate workers with spouses, domestic partners, and children on their Brown healthcare and/or dental can expect 75% coverage to take effect 1 July 2020.

While working hard to secure this contract, we have also been gearing up for other important campaigns that affect our campus community, so that we can use our union power to fight for justice.

  • Reopening: Many research assistants are already back on campus, but grads have not had a real say in the process. If you would like to add your voice to the reopening conversation, please email Audrey Massmann at audreylmassmann@gmail.com to get plugged in.
  • Racial Justice: The Social Justice Working Group and the Organizing Committee are joining activists and organizers from various departments on demands to protect black lives. Please email standupforgrads@gmail.com to join the fight for racial justice on campus.

It’s been a pleasure representing graduate workers at the bargaining table. This is only the beginning.

Solidarity,

The SUGSE Bargaining Committee
Kaity Hajdarovic, Co-chair
Rithika Ramamurthy, Co-chair
Gabriele Borg
Nicole Dusang
Marlon Jimenez Oviedo
Sierra Kaufman
Mirjam Paninski
Kaitlyn Quaranta
Siraj Sindhu
Max Weinreich

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.

CONTRACT HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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.

COVID RELATED PROTECTIONS 

  • 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.

STIPEND

  • 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.

BENEFITS

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.

Leave

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

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

  • 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.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION

  • 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.

WORKLOAD

  • 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. 

APPOINTMENTS

  • 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.

RECOGNITION AS WORKERS

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.

Livestream today!

Watch and share a livestream with workers whom Brown has left without a job. We begin in half an hour at noon EST at facebook.com/BrownSUGSE

Remember to like, share across platforms, and show support in the comments!  Questions for the laid off workers and other guests are also welcome and we will address some comments at the end (but keep in mind there is a delay between you commenting, us seeing your comments, and you hearing our replies!)
Let’s show Brown that they must not fire if they’re not going to hire!
For the rest of our week of action, click here!
Audrey

SUGSE’s Week of Action for COVID Relief and a Contract

This coming week, our union, SUGSE, is planning 5 days of action, corresponding to our 5 demands for COVID relief, to make sure the university hears that grads need more support in the face of the disruptions caused by COVID. Click here to sign up to contribute your voice!

 

Monday, April 13 – Don’t fire if you won’t hire

Tuesday, April 14 – Free COVID treatment and paid sick leave

Wednesday, April 15 – Ensure equity, especially for international students and grad parents

Thursday, April 16 – An additional full calendar year with funding for all grads

Friday, April 17 – Contract now!

 

Click here to find out more and to sign up to contribute your voice. We need every voice to make sure we win the protections and benefits we need to do our work successfully.