Constitution and Bylaws

GLO’s Constitution outlines our Union’s governance and procedures. Details include elected positions and procedures for essential Union activities.

Constitution at a glance

Acronyms and Terms

Key terms and acronyms are bolded. (+) indicates a place where a Member can get involved.


American Federation of Teachers (the national union we are affiliated with).


Umbrella union of which AFT is one part.

Member (+)

Anyone who “joins” the union by signing a union card and paying dues.

Bargaining Unit

A subset of graduate students who serve as TAs, RAs, and proctors (generally not people on external fellowships or masters students who are not funded).


Money members contribute periodically to fund Union operations. A requirement of membership.


Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (Main body of law governing elections in private-sector unions).

Officer (+)

One of the 14 elected grad workers who make the day-to-day decisions that run our Union, and have a sworn duty to fairly represent every grad worker at Brown!

Executive Board

14 elected Officers


If only one eligible candidate seeks a position, that candidate gets the position and no vote is conducted.

Elections Committee (+)

5 people from our Union who manage elections for all positions.

Delegate (+)

People from our Union who represent us at national decision-making meetings of AFT and ALF-CIO.

Steward (+)

About 30 grad workers who are elected voice concerns (and organize) Members in their workplace.

Stewards Assembly

Meetings of all the Stewards — all Members may observe these meetings.

Employee of the Organization

Anyone outside of Union Membership who is hired with dues money.

Providence Central Labor Council (CLC)

Group of organizers and unions located in Providence, which our Union is part of.


A violation of the contract by Brown, resolved by the Union and Brown.


“By virtue of office” (typically used when an Officer is automatically expected to sit on a sub-Committee).


Labor organization in which we are a local. Includes RIFTHP, AFT, and AFL-CIO.

Labor-Management Meeting

A meeting between elected union officers and our employer, to resolve workplace issues beyond grievances.

GMM (+)

General Membership Meeting (periodic meetings open to all Members of the Union).

Fair Share Fees

Money paid by anyone in the Bargaining Unit who chooses not to become a Member to cover the costs of bargaining for and enforcing the contract (a percentage of the full dues rate paid by Members).

Operating Year

The Executive Board may choose whether annual activities recur on an academic year basis, calendar year basis, or something else. In this constitution, this only is specifically referenced with regard to the selection of an Election Committee.

Article I – Name

Purpose: To name the Union

Key Points: 

  • The Union will be formally called Graduate Labor Organization (GLO).

Article II – Purpose

Purpose: To outline why the union exists.

Key Points:

  • Broadly, the Union’s goals are to improve the lives of graduate student workers through collective bargaining with our employer, working together for mutual betterment and respect, supporting education and research, and supporting the efforts of social justice movements.

Article III – Membership

Purpose: To outline who can be part of the Union.

Key Points:

  • A Member of the Union is any graduate student who chooses to join the union by signing a membership card and paying dues.
  • The Bargaining Unit is a subset of graduate students who are TAs, RAs, or proctors. People in the Bargaining Unit can choose to join the Union and become Members, or refrain from joining (see Article X – Revenues for dues information).
  • The Union has the right to remove Members who egregiously violate the purpose and values of the Union, but the Union will use a transformative justice approach to determine the appropriate response to any accusations.

Article IV – Election of Officers and Delegates

Purpose: To outline elected positions within the Union and how these elections are run.
Key Points:

  • The day-to-day operations of the Union will be run by a group of 14 elected officers, who generally hold 2-year terms:
    • President; 
    • Vice President;
    • Secretary;
    • Treasurer;
    • Political Director;
    • Coordinator for Social Justice and Accountability;
    • Coordinator for Communications;
    • Coordinator for Organizing;
    • Lead Organizer for Workers in Master’s Programs;
    • Lead Organizer for International Graduate Workers;
    • Lead Organizer for Physical Sciences;
    • Lead Organizer for Life Sciences;
    • Lead Organizer for Humanities;
    • Lead Organizer for Social Sciences;
  • The Elections Committee is a group of 5 Members selected by the Stewards Assembly who run most elections, according to a well-described process and timeline (at this time, paper ballots are mandated by the LMRDA). There are also methods for filling vacancies in elected positions or removing people from elected positions.
  • Delegates are Members of the Union who are elected to represent the Union at meetings of the broader labor movement.

Article V – Duties of Officers

Purpose: To outline the responsibilities of each member of the Executive Board

Key Points:

  • Each Officer position has clear and unique responsibilities.
  • Lead Organizers are committed to representing their particular constituency (e.g. Life Sciences), must work with and coordinate Stewards in their field.
  • The Political Committee, Committee for Social Justice and Accountability, Communications Committee, and Organizing Committee are headed by their respective Officers.

Article VI – Executive Board

Purpose: To outline the group responsibilities of the Officers on the Executive Board.

Key Points: 

  • The Executive Board meets every two weeks to set Union priorities and has certain additional responsibilities, including giving final approval to the budget, managing professional employees of the Union, and suing on behalf of the whole Membership.

Article VII – Committees

Purpose: To outline the committees that support the Union

Key Points:

  • Special Committees can be set up to address particular issues, in addition to several standing Committees:
    • Elections;
    • Grievance;
    • Political;
    • Communications;
    • Social Justice and Accountability;
    • Organizing
  • Committee Members are selected by the chair of the committee (usually the corresponding Officer).
  • The Bargaining Committee is a special committee elected in advance of contract negotiations, whose job is to negotiate the terms of a contract with Brown’s administration (management).

Article VIII – Stewards and Stewards Assembly

Purpose: To outline the procedures for electing stewards and the responsibility of stewards.

Key Points:

  • Stewards are Members of the Union elected to represent their “worksite” (e.g. department, building, etc.)
  • Stewards provide support for any other Members at their worksite who have a grievance or concern.
  • Stewards are point people responsible for communicating the concerns of Members at their worksite to the Union. Stewards stay up to date with the goings-on of the Union by attending General Members Meetings and various other meetings, including a gathering of all Stewards, called the Stewards Assembly, twice per semester (or by invitation from the Executive Board), to discuss concerns and help the Executive Board set goals for the Union.

Article IX – General Membership Meetings

Purpose: To outline how often meetings for all Members occur and how to set the agenda.

Key Points: 

  • GMMs occur twice per semester and once in the summer.
  • All Members are welcome, and anyone can submit an agenda item in advance.

Article X – Revenues

Purpose: To describe dues.

Key Points:

  • All Members pay dues (dues rate will be 1.65% of the stipend according to the initial Constitution — can be altered by a referendum).
  • Members who are not part of the Bargaining Unit pay dues on a per semester basis.
  • People in the Bargaining Unit who are not Members must pay fair share fees (aka. a percentage of the dues paid by Members). These fees make sure that the Union has sufficient funding to support and negotiate on behalf of the Bargaining Unit and people don’t “free ride” off those bargaining efforts.

Article XI – Affiliations

Purpose: To delineate our Union’s relationship with broader labor organizations

Key Points:

  • Our Union is a “local” Union, and we are affiliated with larger labor organizations, primarily the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Article XII – Rules of Order

Purpose: To describe the procedure for making decisions within the Union

Key Points:

  • Where possible, decisions will be made by consensus rather than by majority.
  • A five-degree voting system will allow all people to register various levels of agreement and disagreement with any proposal, or ask for a pause in voting for further discussion.