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GLO members discuss new contract, bargaining process

Second union contract followed months of negotiation, open bargaining sessions

The contract also included a raise, 100% coverage of health care premiums for graduate students and their children and union representation in harassment and discrimination cases.
The contract also included a raise, 100% coverage of health care premiums for graduate students and their children and union representation in harassment and discrimination cases.

The Graduate Labor Organization announced the ratification of its second union contract with the University last month, The Herald previously reported. The new contract includes increases to the annual base stipend and health care assistance payments for graduate student employees, as well as expanded protections against harassment. 

Several members of GLO spoke with The Herald about the union’s experience bargaining with the University and the impact of the new conditions on graduate students. 

Negotiations for the second contract spanned from early spring 2023 to last month, according to Maria Arievitch GS, one of GLO’s co-bargaining chairs. “We were ready for it to be a longer process,” she said. “It’s never easy.”

The process was made longer in part due to GLO’s commitment to open bargaining, which allowed graduate students to join GLO’s sessions and share their opinions on the new contract. 

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Though it extended the negotiation process, “that kind of element of democratic participation was really important to us,” Arievitch explained. 

Prior to negotiations, GLO’s bargaining committee also spent time having one-on-one conversations with graduate students “to gauge how the contract (was) working for them before bargaining,” said Victoria Antonetti GS, another one of GLO’s co-bargaining chairs. 

Entering negotiations, GLO’s main demands were establishing fair wages and stronger protections against discrimination and harassment, according to Antonetti.

Arievitch said that GLO and the University struggled to compromise at the start of negotiations, but that changed later in the process “as more grads showed up to sessions,” she said. 

“Brown and GLO worked together at the outset of negotiations to establish ground rules and principles that would encourage a collaborative and collegial process, including on points of disagreement,” University Spokesperson Brian Clark wrote in an email to The Herald.

“This proved successful and, from the University’s standpoint, we were glad to be able to work respectfully, cooperatively and productively with Union representatives during contract negotiations,” Clark added. 

The contract includes a 7.75% base stipend increase and $450 health care assistance payment increase for the 2024 fiscal year and union representation in harassment and discrimination cases, according to the union’s bargaining bulletin.

“When we include things like workplace safety into a contract for the first time, that’s now something that other unions can fight for,” Arievitch said. “It changes the whole landscape and makes it kind of an inspiration to a lot of other grad workers, but also people in other industries.”

For Andrew Clark GS, communications director for GLO, the raise means that he will not have to move next year, regardless of rent increases. “My colleagues with children now have more money for childcare,” he added.

“I think our contract just helps us take a step away from that mindset of grads having to constantly fight for survival,” allowing them to “actually thrive in academic work,” Arievitch said. 

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Following the new harassment and grievances conditions, Antonetti believes “grads will be less afraid to say something” in the event of discrimination or harassment.

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Jennifer Shim

Jennifer Shim is a University News editor overseeing the staff and student labor beat. She is a sophomore studying Applied Math-Economics. Outside of The Herald, you can find her playing NYT Connections.



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