Graduate worker union election scheduled to begin May 31

May 18, 2023, 9:39 p.m.

An election on Stanford graduate worker unionization will take place starting May 31, with in-person voting on May 31 and June 1 and mail-in ballots due June 30, according to a Stanford News report published Thursday. The secret-ballot election will be conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and provide graduate workers the chance to vote for or against representation by the Stanford Graduate Workers Union (SGWU), according to the report.

The Stanford News report stated that election results are “expected in early July, shortly after the mail-in voting process concludes and votes from both the in-person and mail-in processes are tallied by the NLRB.”

SGWU organizer Hanon McShea, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Earth system science, said that the SGWU is “very excited” for the election.

McShea said that “outreach-wise,” the SGWU is “doing the same as we always do, which is organizers talking with every grad worker about what they want to see happen at this University and how to make it happen.”

“A piece of that is voting,” McShea said.

The outcome of the election is determined by the majority among those who vote, not among eligible voters, according to the Stanford News report. If the majority votes for representation, all members of the bargaining unit will be represented by the SGWU and “subject to the terms and conditions negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement, regardless of whether an individual graduate student voted for unionization or not,” the report read.

According to the Stanford News report, “[i]n general,” Ph.D. students, non-MBA master’s students and J.D. students at Stanford who provide teaching and research services to the University are eligible to vote. The University’s Graduate Student Unionization website stated that the “union and the university have agreed” that the bargaining unit will consist of these students, including ones pursuing degree combinations, as well as “students on fellowship who provide instructional services.”

Students on fellowship are generally not eligible to vote unless they are providing those “instructional services” to the University this quarter, according to the Stanford News report. Students on fellowship who are not providing those services are excluded from the bargaining unit, as well as other employees classified as exempt and “all other students” including MBA, DMA, JSD, M.D. and undergraduates, according to the Graduate Student Unionization website.

Eligible voters will receive an email notification before the election, according to the Stanford News report. For those living in the San Francisco Bay Area and voting-in person, the email will notify them of when and where they should vote on campus. Voting will take place at Durand Building, Tresidder Memorial Union or Escondido Village Graduate Residencies (EVGR) Building B, according to the Graduate Student Unionization website.

Eligible voters living outside of the Bay Area or studying abroad will receive mail-in ballots from the NLRB, according to the Graduate Student Unionization website, and mail-in ballots must be returned and received by the NLRB before 5 p.m. on June 30.

The SGWU publicly launched its unionization campaign on the first day of spring quarter. Over 3,600 Stanford graduate workers signed cards expressing their interest in representation from the union over the following three weeks, according to SGWU organizers, forming the basis of the SGWU’s petition to the University for voluntary recognition.

In late April, the SGWU filed an election petition with the NLRB after the University declined its request for voluntary recognition.

University spokesperson Stett Holbrook wrote in an email to The Daily that the University “continues to encourage eligible graduate students to educate themselves about the issues and to exercise their right to participate in this election.” Holbrook added that the University “[continues] to provide factual information on the website to assist in that endeavor.”

SGWU organizer and fourth-year aeronautics and astronautics Ph.D. student Jason Anderson said that SGWU members are “super excited,” adding that the fact that “this is happening so fast” demonstrates the SGWU’s “resolve” and “strength” and that the SGWU is “ready to represent graduate student-workers and to bargain for affordable wages, comprehensive benefits, arbitrations and international graduate student-workers.”

“I think graduate students are ready to win big,” Anderson said.

Anne Li '24 was a vol. 264 Equity Project editor. Contact her at anneli ‘at’

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