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Graduate Student Unionization Effort Launches Website

UPDATED: October 6, 2015, at 1:46 a.m.

The graduate student unionization effort at Harvard has launched a website that celebrates its recent affiliation with the United Auto Workers and provides graduate members answers to a number of technical questions about the movement.

The website, harvardgradunion.org, appears to be part of a greater attempt to recruit new members to the effort. The organizers have also held card drives and used existing platforms such as the Graduate Student Council to recruit new members and promote their cause.

On the website, the group’s leaders strike a hopeful tone about achieving University recognition, even though Harvard President Drew G. Faust has said she does not support the movement. The National Labor Relations Board has also upheld private universities’ choice not to recognize graduate student unions, which the site acknowledges.

“Once recognized, we will sit down with the Harvard administration and bargain as equals about our jobs, the effects they have on our lives, and the effects they have on our students,” the website’s home page says. “Collective bargaining can mitigate many of the precarious features of graduate employment and enable to focus more on quality teaching and research.”

The website also provides a list of questions and answers about the process of unionizing, the benefits of a union, and the technicalities about legal barriers, dues, and negotiations.

“HGSU-UAW is an organization of graduate workers joining together to build power, create a democratic workplace, and negotiate to improve our working conditions and secure those conditions in a binding contract that cannot be unilaterally changed by the university,” the site says.

According to the website, some of the unionization effort’s more concrete goals include timely payments, improved insurance packages, better family benefits, a grievance procedure, protections against sexual assault, and subsidized public transportation.

The site also introduces members of the unionization effort to outsiders. Some information includes the years, departments, and reasons for wanting a graduate student union.

For example, Alex J. Ocampo writes, “from one mathematician to another: Albert Einstein believes in unions and so do I.”

—Staff writer Jill E. Steinman can be reached at jill.steinman@thecrimson.com. Follow her on twitter @jillsteinman.

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