Creating Our Negotiating Committee

If the Union is determined to be the exclusive representative of the Graduate Assistants as a result of the election procedures described above, Cornell and the Union will commence negotiations in good faith over the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.
— The Union-University Code of Conduct

After our union recognition election on March 27th and 28th—and if Cornell grads vote “yes”—the next major step is to form a negotiating committee and start bargaining with the University for better wages and benefits. We’re excited to move forward with the transparency, accountability, and democracy that have always been CGSU’s core values. But a lot of us have never been part of a union before. What does this all mean? How do we start?

The first concrete step post-election is to decide how we will select our negotiating committee—the team we elect to bargain with Cornell management for improved wages and benefits. Our members have expressed interest in negotiating for a variety of contractual benefits, including affordable child care and dependent healthcare coveragecomprehensive support for workers’ compensation and medical leave, and guaranteed dental and vision coverage.

Once the negotiating committee and management tentatively agree to a contract—our “collective bargaining agreement”—it will be put to a vote of all CGSU members. In other words, we authorize the negotiating committee to bargain on our behalf, but we all vote on any contract resulting from those negotiations. If approved, the contract will be valid for some set number of years, as defined by the agreement, after which we’ll renegotiate the contract to incorporate our ever-evolving needs.

Who will serve on the negotiating committee? How will it function? These are the big decisions our union needs to make next. How we structure our negotiating committee and how it functions is up to us. Unions structure and operate their negotiating committees in a variety of ways, and we have the freedom to be creative and construct a negotiating committee that best reflects our union's vision and values. We will continue to update this page with additional information regarding the negotiating process and our options over the next several weeks.

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