Resources for students

Who is included in Harvard Graduate Student Union–United Auto Workers bargaining unit?

The official definition of the HGSU-UAW bargaining unit is as follows:

Included:

“All students enrolled in Harvard degree programs employed by the Employer [Harvard] who provide instructional services at Harvard University, including graduate and undergraduate Teaching Fellows (teaching assistants, teaching fellows, course assistants); and all students enrolled in Harvard degree programs (other than undergraduate students at Harvard College) employed by the Employer who serve as Research Assistants (regardless of funding sources, including those compensated...

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Will I have to pay dues, even if I don’t want to join the union?

If a “union shop” provision as described above is included in the collective bargaining agreement, individuals who choose not to join the union may still be required to pay an equivalent fee. Depending on the terms of the contract in force, failure to pay dues could result in dismissal from a teaching or research appointment (the NYU contract has this...

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Where do my union dues go?

Dues collected from UAW members are allocated between the local union, the International Union General Fund, and the International Union Strike and Defense Fund. While the exact breakdown depends on strike activity in a given month, the UAW dues FAQ provides an estimated breakdown showing that approximately 40% of your monthly dues would go to the local union, another 40% would go to the international United Auto Workers, and the final 20% would go to the UAW’s Strike and Defense Fund.

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If I object to a provision in the contract that is negotiated, do I have to abide by that provision?

Yes. Collective bargaining is just that: collective. The union now represents all students in the bargaining unit and the provisions in whatever contract they negotiate will apply to all. Any exceptions would need to be explicitly stated in the contract or negotiated with the union. Any collective bargaining agreement must be ratified by more than 50% of the members but once it goes into effect, members are bound by provisions in the agreement while they are a member of the bargaining unit (that is, while they hold a job covered by the agreement).

 

Students in different Harvard Schools and in different departments within Schools have very different experiences and needs. Could exceptions be added to the negotiated contract that would recognize and accommodate individual needs?

As a collective bargaining unit, student employees must be considered as a group, not as individuals. Special provisions for different categories of members could be part of the contract, but would need to be negotiated through the collective bargaining process. Once a tentative agreement is reached, all union members have the opportunity to vote on the contract. Under most union rules, if a majority (more than 50%) of those who vote approve it, the contract is binding on all.