CGSU Endorses Reed Steberger for County Legislature

Cornell Graduate Students United has endorsed Reed Steberger's candidacy for Tompkins County Legislature! Ninety-one members voted during the 72 hour polling period. While this only just makes the required 5% quorum, those who voted were overwhelmingly in support of endorsement—80 supported the statement and 11 did not. Eight votes submitted after the Constitutionally-prescribed polling period were all in support. If you would like to help with Reed's campaign, sign up to volunteer on their website. CGSU's statement follows after the jump.

 
 

CGSU Endorses Reed Steberger for Tompkins County Legislature

Cornell Graduate Students United was founded to bring fairness, respect, and democracy to graduate workers at Cornell, and our fight can't stop at the edge of campus.

Cornell grads are a diverse group of Tompkins County residents. Our membership includes immigrants, religious minorities, renters, and parents; some rely on Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance.

We deserve a voice in local government fighting for our shared principles and interests.

Reed Steberger is a community organizer with eight years of experience in Ithaca and Tompkins County, and is running for Tompkins County Legislature in one of the most grad-dense districts of Ithaca. Having demonstrated a consistent commitment to workers' rights and social justice, we believe Reed Steberger is the right choice for advancing fairness, respect, and democracy for all the residents of Ithaca and Tompkins County, and endorse their candidacy for District Four's seat in the Tompkins County Legislature.

Results are in for May 2017 CGSU Elections!

The 2017 election committee is here to announce the 2017-2018 CGSU Steering Committee officers. Congratulations to all who won seats on next year’s Steering Committee, and a big thank you to everyone who voted.

Administrative Liaison: Ethan Susca
Communication & Outreach Committee Chair: Jaron Kent-Dobias
GPSA Liaison: Jesse Goldberg
Grievances Committee Chair: Josh Savala
Organizing Committee Chair: Ethan Ritz
Membership Coordinator: Danny Rosenberg Daneri
Treasurers (2): Sampreety Gurung & Lindsay Mercer
Secretary/Chair of Legal Affairs: Aubrie James
Research & Contract Committee Chair: Ela Correa
Unity Committee Chair: Zifeng Liu

For in-depth results from the elections please see the linked document from Helios. Please contact us with any questions you have about the election at cgsu-elections@googlegroups.com.

Your 2017 Elections Committee,
Augie Faller
Vera Khovanskaya
Kathryn McGill
Yogesh Patil

Call for nominations! 2017-18 Steering Committee

Dear CGSU,

We write on behalf of the 2017 CGSU Election Committee to solicit nominations for candidates to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee coordinates the work of the union by facilitating member discussion, debate, and participation in decision-making. Any CGSU member may nominate another member or self-nominate for any Steering Committee position.

As we look toward the future of our union in this exciting and incredibly transitional time, our union continues to only be as strong as our members. Even if you don't have a background or experience in this sort of thing, we encourage all CGSU members to consider taking up this opportunity to participate in the process—maybe even by running yourself! The responsibilities of each Steering Committee member can be found in Article II, Section C in the CGSU Constitution. Please note that incumbent Steering Committee members are not eligible to serve in the same position on this year’s Steering Committee.

The Election Committee will accept nominations until May 10th. Please send in all nominations using this form.

Positions are listed below for reference.

1. Administration Liaison
2. Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) Liaison
3. Membership Coordinator
4. Communication and Outreach Standing Committee Chair
5. Organizing Standing Committee Chair
6. Research and Contract Standing Committee Chair
7. & 8. Treasurers (two positions) (co-chair the Finance Standing Committee)
9. Secretary (chairs the Legal Affairs Standing Committee)
10. Grievances Standing Committee Chair
11. Unity Standing Committee Chair

Next steps

After the two week nominations period has concluded, the elections committee will solicit statements from candidates, should positions be contested. These statements will be compiled into a Voter Guide and distributed to the membership.

Electronic Balloting will commence one week after the Voter Guide has been distributed. Members will have one week to vote using an online vote system. After the one week voting period has concluded, Election Committee Members will submit the results to the membership when they have been processed.

Thank you! Please nominate!  

In solidarity,

Your 2017 Elections Committee

Augie Faller
Vera Khovanskaya
Kathryn McGill
Yogesh Patil

Recognition Election Results Still Out

Dear Graduate Workers,

Yesterday we waited late into the night as the American Arbitration Association (AAA) counted the results of our union recognition election. Unfortunately, the result is still inconclusive. The AAA should make a final determination within the next month. 

The results are uncertain because neither side obtained a clear majority, with the number of challenged ballots large enough to determine the election's outcome. Of 1,856 ballots cast, 856 (46.1%) are confirmed votes "yes," 919 (49.5%) are confirmed votes "no," and 81 (4.4%) are either challenged ballots, unresolved marking-related challenges, or absentee ballots that need to be verified. 

Although  a clear majority of voters didn't vote "yes," we remain proud of what we've accomplished together. In 2002, only 30.0% of us voted "yes" for union recognition. Today, in 2017, we made it right to the precipice. We accomplished this together through passion and hard work.  Cornell Graduate Students United was founded by a dozen members in 2014, and now organizes hundreds. Regardless of recognition, we're not going anywhere.  Our union is firmly established and will continue to advocate for our basic rights as workers. We'll keep fighting for fairness, respect, and democracy at Cornell University, whether we're at the bargaining table or not.

Though we're proud of our campaign, we can't say the same of Cornell's conduct. The management has treated us with disrespect throughout the campaign.  Between months of 'Ask a Dean' and public, unverifiable accusations during the election, the Graduate School has used their position of power as our employer to try and influence results in a way that violates the spirit of our Code of Conduct agreement and has garnered national scrutiny. This confirms the position Cornell took when it signed an amicus brief last year directly opposing our rights as workers. Our hard work in teaching and research produces Cornell's value. We pay taxes on our income, write grants, and sign away intellectual property rights. Cornell doesn't always share our  interests, which is why we must keep advocating for them.

Most of all we’d like to say thank you—to all of you—for your support.  Over the past three years our movement has collected the ideas and passions of a remarkable portion of Cornell's graduate population and synthesized them into a formidable voice to power. The connections, consciousness, and platform we've built still exist regardless of recognition, and these have power unto themselves. We will continue to fight against the idea that our highly skilled labor is somehow less than work. We will continue to fight for the benefits and respect that match that work. We will continue to fight against the notion that graduate workers are somehow better off apolitical and apart. It's been inspiring to work together so far, and it's not close to over yet.

The coming weeks may hold a lot of uncertainty, but these are things you can be sure of. We've forged bonds that will not so easily be broken.

Yours in solidarity,

Jaron Kent-Dobias, TA and PhD Candidate (Physics)
Paul G. Berry, TA and PhD Candidate (Development Sociology)

We're already winning

Late yesterday, Cornell administration announced a change in our health insurance benefits, significantly reducing the cost for care received outside the Ithaca area. We’re excited to see that the Graduate School is already moving to improve grad benefits, even before our union election concludes. It’s a sign of the power we can have when we stand together, united, and push for what grads need.

The administration is clearly looking for a way to dissuade you from voting for your union, but it won’t work. This announcement is a victory, and it would not have happened in the absence of our campaign for union recognition. Now, it’s up to us to take the next step and secure this win in a legally-binding collective bargaining agreement, then build on it to win even more improvements. Just think: if this is what the administration is willing to do before the votes are even counted, what might they be willing to do once we actually win recognition?

We had an incredible showing of support for CGSU as soon as the polls opened yesterday, and our path is clear: a yes vote means more power for grads, and more power means we can preserve what we like while making improvements to what isn’t working. We can come up with our own ideas together and present them to management instead of just waiting for emails from the Graduate School. And that will make Cornell a better university for us, our families, our research, and our students.

Now, for some real talk: This election is going to be really close. Hundreds of grads were out voting yesterday, and it’s likely that hundreds more will vote before polls close at 10pm tonight. For us to win recognition for our union, it’s going to come down to each and every one of us getting out and voting yes.

So if you voted yes yesterday: Congratulations! You’ve joined the hundreds of us who already have voted yes and taken a step toward our collective empowerment. This vote is our chance to win the right to negotiate real improvements to our wages and working conditions and build a strong, independent union that raises our voices.

That’s why I’m asking you, as a fellow grad, to help us show overwhelming support for our union. Will you take a photo of yourself with a sign saying “I VOTED CGSU YES”, text it to us at (607) 319-2982 for us to share, and share it on your own social media?

Voting yes means a vote for fairness, respect, and democracy. It means a real voice and real power to push for the things we need to make Cornell better. Now is the time. Let’s make history today and finish our election with a strong CGSU YES vote.

Kevin Hines
Teaching Assistant
Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology

P.S. Don’t forget to text your photo to (607) 319-2982 so we can share it!

NY State Assemblymember Barbara Lifton Endorses CGSU

Following endorsements from Mayor Svante Myrick and Senator Chuck Schumer, our State Assembly representative Barbara Lifton has endorsed a "yes" vote for unionization tomorrow! Read the full text of her letter below.


To Whom it May Concern,

As the NY State Assemblymember for Tompkins and Cortland Counties, I support Cornell Grad Workers, as I do all workers, in your struggle to win fair and safe working conditions from Tompkins County's largest employer. I respect all the hard work you do in your teaching and research and I'm endorsing a "yes" vote in CGSU's upcoming union recognition election.

Sincerely,
Barbara Lifton
 

New York Senator Chuck Schumer Endorses Our Movement!

Following endorsement from Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, New York Senator Chuck Schumer has extended his support for the right of graduate workers to unionize and collectively bargain! You can read his letter below.


To the Cornell Graduate Workers:

As a leading research institution in New York, Cornell plays a crucial role in the development of future generations of citizens, researchers, inventors, scholars, entrepreneurs and more. Fueled by the tireless and ongoing efforts of RAs and TAs, Cornell is a valuable economic driver in the Southern Tier – and the whole state and nation. This past August, the National Labor Relations Board made a significant decision that restored the rights of graduate student research and teaching assistants (RAs and TAs) to collectively bargain at universities. It is a decision I strongly supported because I believe in the right of employees to organize and to collectively bargain for fair contracts. Soon, you will have the opportunity to exercise this right and I encourage all at Cornell who are eligible to participate in this election.

It has been my experience that workplaces function most effectively when there is a proper balance between workers and management. From Day One, the American labor movement has been a springboard for advancement, economic equity and fair representation in the workplace. But perhaps most importantly, unions build the middle class by affording hardworking people fair wages, decent benefits and a say over their work lives.  I have worked for many years with the American Federation of Teachers and can say that they are a first-rate institution that knows how to advocate for its members and build positive, win-win relationships with employers, especially in academic settings.

I commend both the administration and the graduate labor force for both their cooperative engagement in setting rules for the organizing process and their willingness to negotiate a contract should the graduate workers choose to form a union. The ability for RAs and TAs to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and the respect for which the University’s administration and faculty have for this right, is reflected in the ongoing cooperation between the two parties. The healthy functioning of the university community is best secured by ensuring a free and fair election on unionization and, should the majority elect union representation, a prompt engagement in good-faith negotiations for a contract. I commend Cornell for its willingness to pursue this course.

I wish you the best as you engage in this critical process. And I look forward to on ongoing relationship with Cornell University and all its vital components to continue to build that great institution’s capabilities and impact.               

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
Democratic Leader

Q&A session today, rally tomorrow!

Dear CGSU members:

Just a few more days until the election!

Our Get Out the Vote Campaign doesn't just consist of friendly office visits and phone reminders about voting day on Monday and Tuesday. We are also hosting fun events, a Q&A sessions today and rally tomorrow with AFT president Randi Weingarten. We want to make sure you're fully informed and sufficiently hyped for next week and beyond!

We'll be hosting a Q&A session to address any last-minute questions before next week's election: 3:30-5pm Malott 253. Join us at the Big Red Barn afterward for cheap drinks and schmoozing. Extra points for wearing your CGSU button.

Saturday from 4pm to 5:30pm at the Hasbrouck Community center, American Federation of Teachers President and Cornell University alumna Randi Weingarten will rally with Cornell graduate workers to get out the vote. Weingarten will speak at the CGSU event at Hasbrouck Community Center, highlighting the voices of grad employees with families, and the challenges faced by international grads, two days before our big vote begins!

See you there, see you at the polls, and see you at the negotiating table.

In solidarity,

Alana Staiti
PhD Candidate
Science & Technology Studies
Cornell University

Jaron Kent-Dobias: Why I'm voting yes for CGSU

Hello fellow grads,

My name is Jaron Kent-Dobias and I'm a Teaching Assistant and PhD Candidate in the Physics Department at Cornell. In many ways, the physics program treats its grads very well—we're relatively well-paid, extended opportunities for TAship as often as we'd like, and permitted to settle on an advisor with leisure. Because of these departmental benefits, many physicists don't think unionization will help them. I'm voting "yes" for unionization because I know they are wrong.

I'm voting "yes" because I want our benefits to be guaranteed by a contract. Cornell management claims it wants to extend us these benefits, so why not set them in stone? If all negotiation leads to is a contract guaranteeing what Cornell says they provide, we will have won something substantial. Cornell says they adjust stipends to maintain quality of life, but at best they miss the rapidly inflating mark and at worst they randomly cut our wages. Cornell says they want to support us when we're injured on the job, but instead fights to prevent us from getting workers' compensation benefits. We deserve more from our Departments and Cornell than niceties—we deserve legal assurance.

I'm voting "yes" because I believe my colleagues across Cornell deserve comparable treatment. Many physicists assume that our benefits are a Cornell default and are surprised to learn that even our colleagues in engineering fare far worse. Most departments limit opportunities to work as a TA to a few semesters or less, so when grants or adviser relations fall through there is no financial backing or visa extension. Most departments require grads to find a research adviser within a semester or two of arriving, with the threat of being dropped if no one takes them, and some departments intentionally over-admit with the expectation of dropping grads. Our peers deserve the kind of respectful and fair treatment that we enjoy.

I'm voting "yes" because even our treatment isn't good enough. The physics department does well in some ways, but tows the University line in others. I have friends in physics with horror stories about their attempts to navigate the University's inflexible yet inscrutable maternity and family support policy while administrators and in and above the department offered confusing and inconsistent information, or their experience with the chain of faculty, directors and deans that make up the early stages of our heavily faculty-biased grievance process. No physicist has a good option for dental insurance, or any option for vision. And we all are made to sign nonnegotiable agreements that strip us of any intellectual property rights for the products of our labor. We deserve more.

I'm voting "yes" because I want fair academic work after I graduate. After Cornell, I want to get a job teaching and doing research in academia. Universities of every sort rely more and more heavily on adjunct and contingent faculty for the bulk of their research and teaching labor. These positions are funded on a semester-by-semester basis, offer little to no track towards more permanent work, and fail to provide many standard employment benefits, like comprehensive health care or workers' compensation. Does this sound familiar? Today's postgraduates are increasingly given jobs cut from the mold of graduate ones. Participating in the national trend to improve graduate working conditions helps raise the floor for all positions subsequent. We deserve security and benefits today and tomorrow that match the highly skilled work we do, not whatever is most convenient for institutions.

These are a few among many compelling reasons to support unionization of graduate workers at Cornell. Detractors of our union ask questions about rising costs, decreased flexibility, and harm to advisor relationships. Fortunately, those questions have answers. The latest research on graduate unionization shows that graduate unions do increase stipends, that they correlate positively with "both the personal support and professional support dimensions of student-teacher relationships," and that the vast majority of faculty and grads at unionized institutions don't feel like their relationships were changed for the worse. Even the faculty who study labor relations at our own institution believe this. Scientists know that reason requires more than just asking questions—you must study the answers and correct your ideas accordingly. The consensus is real: graduate unionization at Cornell is to our benefit. That's why I'm voting "yes" on Monday, and you should too.

Sincerely,

Jaron Kent-Dobias
Cornell Physics TA & PhD Candidate

Tonight: concert to get out the vote for our union!

Dear CGSU members,

Just a few more days until the election! Our Get Out the Vote Campaign doesn't just consist of friendly office visits and phone reminders about voting day on Monday and Tuesday. We are also hosting fun events and Q&A sessions today and tomorrow. We want to make sure you're fully informed and sufficiently hyped for next week and beyond!

Join us tonight at 9:30 for some great music and legit hanging out at Watermargin, 103 McGraw Place, for a Get Out the Vote concert! We've collaborated with Fanclub Collective for this event and we're really excited about it. See Facebook event for more info.

And tomorrow we'll be hosting a Q&A session to address any last-minute questions before next week's election: 3:30-5pm Mallott 253. Join us at the Big Red Barn afterward for cheap drinks and schmoozing. Extra points for wearing your CGSU button.

See you there, see you at the polls, see you at the negotiating table.

In solidarity,

Alana Staiti
PhD Candidate
Science & Technology Studies
Cornell University

Get Out the Vote with AFT President Randi Weingarten, Saturday 12-6!

It's time to Get Out the Vote with Randi Weingarten, Cornell Alum and President of the American Federation of Teachers!

On the weekend before our historic vote, join Randi and Cornell grads to get out the vote with two big events:

First: Talk to CGSU supporters who are ready to vote yes!

Join us for phonebanking, starting 12pm Saturday at the CGSU office, 4th floor, 401 E State St.

Then: a rally and celebration highlighting the voices of grads with families, from 4-5:30 pm Saturday at the Hasbrouck Community Center . Childcare and food provided, families welcome!

From now until you vote: check your polling location and organize your department or lab to get to the polls on Monday the 27th and Tuesday the 28th.

It's time to get out the vote!

Join us!

Jane Glaubman
5th year PhD student, English
and proud CGSU member since 2014

Philip Kear: Why I'm voting yes for CGSU

Dear Colleague,

My name is Philip Kear and I’m a graduate student in CALS. I’m not a US citizen or a Green Card holder; I’m in the US on a non-immigrant F1-visa holder that allows me to study and work at Cornell. I don’t intend to settle in the US; I just came to study. Together with me are my wife and two daughters, which are F2 holders. It is because I’m not an American citizen that I’m voting to form a union at Cornell on March 27! I’m asking that you join me!

Despite my mostly positive experience working as a graduate employee at Cornell I have struggled with the unrealistic burden of Cornell’s lack of affordable health insurance provision for dependents. Basic Cornell health insurance for a spouse and two children will cost my family approximately $8000 annually. Because of my wife’s visa status she is not allowed to work, making our family of four financial survival dependent on my assistantship. Ultimately, this has led to long periods without insurance. It’s actually cheaper for our family to seek medical treatment in another country than to pay the sky-high insurance fees at Cornell. Our ability to negotiate over the cost and quality of our healthcare will only come with forming a union and negotiating with Cornell. That’s why we must vote yes on March 27 and 28th. Join me!

I come from a country where health insurance costs are covered through taxes. Every person has access to the same coverage regardless of citizenship after 90 days in the country. I’m voting yes on March 27 to join a national union that invests resources in fighting for the preservation of and to improve healthcare in this country, as well as for the rights of those of us who are scholars from other countries. We chose to come to study at Cornell for a reason. That’s why I’m voting yes.

My story is not unique. I’ve talked to many other grad employees with stories similar to mine and the high cost of health insurance and how deeply it affects our family is why we’re voting for a union on March 27 and 28th.

Join us.

Philip Kear

Teaching Assistant, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick Stands With CGSU!

Mayor Svante Myrick has endorsed our union in its fight for recognition! You can find his letter here, or read the full text below.


March 21, 2017
To Whom it May Concern,

As mayor of the city of Ithaca, I respect the right of our employees to join together and represent their common interests, and I expect the same from Cornell, our biggest employer. Fair labor and employment conditions for grad workers can only make both our city and Cornell stronger and more cohesive. For these reasons, I support Cornell Graduate Students United (CGSU) and I'm endorsing a "yes" vote in support of democracy and workers' rights next week.

Sincerely,
Svante Myrick, Mayor

How to vote yes for your union

Dear fellow graduate employees and qualified union voters:

There is a lot of confusing, at times conflicting information, about how and when we will vote yes for CGSU! Having seen the official notice, I wanted to make sure all voters know exactly how we can take this historic step together. We will receive an official polling assignment from AAA (American Arbitration Association), the neutral organization that will be administering our election. For your vote to be valid, you must vote at your assigned polling location.

We are assigned to specific polling places to ensure a clean election for over 2200 grad employees over two days. If you have any questions about your polling location or are confused about the process, please contact CGSU at: cornellgsu@gmail.com and we’ll be able to help.

To Vote:

Bring your Cornell ID card or a government issued photo ID card, such as your passport or drivers license to your assigned polling location.

For the Ithaca Campus:

On March 27th and 28th, polls will be open from 10:30am to 2:30pm and from 4pm to 10pm.You will be assigned to one of the following four polling locations.

  • G01 Biotechnology Building
  • B73 Warren Hall
  • Goldman Lounge, Duffield Hall
  • Former Temple of Zeus, Goldwin Smith Hall

Polling locations were assigned by fields of study (see the list at the end of this email to verify your fields’ voting location).  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to let us know at cornellgsu@gmail.com. Geneva students will be assigned to vote in Ithaca unless a request is made to Jason Kahabka at jek15@cornell.edu by 5:00pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

For the Geneva Campus:

On the Geneva campus, voting will only take place on Tuesday, March 28 from 10:30am-2:30pm.

You will vote at:

  • Foyer, Barton Laboratory

Absentee Ballots:

You will be qualified to request an absentee ballot only if:

  • You are registered with Cornell for the current term as in absentia.
  • Registered and attending a conference or will be away from the Ithaca or Geneva campuses for work obligations related to your position as a teaching assistant or research assistant. Proof of conference registration or off-campus job assignment dated before March 6 is required.

If you qualify for an absentee ballot you must contact AAA immediately at 1-800-529-5218 or ulerios@adr.org to request a ballot.

Ballots are required to be returned to AAA before 5pm on March 24, 2017.

Return your ballots to:

American Arbitration Association
120 Broadway, 21st Floor
New York, NY 10271

I can’t wait to vote yes for CGSU on March 27 and 28!

Join me,

Michaela Brangan
CGSU Administrative Liaison

Jane Glaubman
CGSU OC Member

Voting location by Field:

Biotech, Room G01
Biochemistry Molecular and Cell Biology
Biological and Environmental Engineering
Biomedical Engineering
Biophysics
Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Computational Biology
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Economics
Entomology
Genetics Genomics and Development
Genomics
Hotel Administration
Industrial and Labor Relations
Management
Mathematics
Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Neurobiology and Behavior
Pharmacology
Psychology
Real Estate
Sociology
Statistics
Zoology and Wildlife Conservation

Warren Hall, B73
Animal Science
Applied Economics and Management
Atmospheric Science
Communication
Design and Environmental Analysis
Development Sociology
Education
Environmental Toxicology
Epidemiology
Fiber Science and Apparel Design
Food Science and Technology
Global Development
Horticulture
Human Development
Immunology and Infectious Disease
Landscape Architecture
Microbiology
Natural Resources
Nutrition
Physics
Plant Biology
Plant Breeding
Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology
Policy Analysis and Management
Public Affairs
Risk Analysis Communication and Policy
Soil and Crop Sciences

Duffield, Goldman Lounge
Aerospace Engineering
Applied Mathematics
Applied Physics
Chemical Engineering
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Computational Science and Engineering
Computer Science
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Film and Video Studies
Geological Sciences
Information Science
Law
Materials Science and Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Operations Research and Information Engineering
Systems Engineering
Theatre Arts
Theoretical and Applied Mechanics

Goldwin Smith Hall, Former Temple of Zeus
Africana Studies
Anthropology
Archaeology
Architecture
Art
Asian Literature Religion and Culture
Astronomy and Space Sciences
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
City and Regional Planning
Classics
Comparative Literature
English Language and Literature
Germanic Studies
Government
History
History of Art Archaeology and Visual Studies
Linguistics
Music
Near Eastern Studies
Philosophy
Regional Science
Romance Studies
Science and Technology Studies
Urban Studies

Geneva Campus - Barton Lab Foyer
10:30am-2:30pm, Tuesday the 28th
By request to Jason Kahabka at jek15@cornell.edu

Information and procedures for negotiating committee constitutional amendment

Dear CGSU members,

As we’re working hard to do everything we can to vote “yes” & win our union recognition election on March 27 and 28, we’re also thinking about the future. Afterwards, the next step will be forming a negotiating committee to start bargaining with Cornell for improved wages and benefits. (See the CGSU website for election information).

While we move toward negotiations with Cornell, we can clarify from our side the mandate and make up of our negotiating committee and collective bargaining process. Members of the CGSU Legal Affairs Committee have drafted an amendment to this end regarding the creation of a negotiating committee for member consideration, as the CGSU Constitution does not yet have any language to address these issues. All CGSU members are invited to participate in this democratic process by either: i) providing comments and/or suggested improvements to the proposed amendment, or ii) proposing alternative negotiating committee amendments if they wish to do so.  More detailed information can be found in Art. III of the CGSU Constitution and on the Creating Our Negotiating Committee page on our website.

The primary goals of the current proposed amendment are:

  • To outline the composition of the negotiating committee,
  • To ensure that the negotiating committee, which will be comprised of CGSU members, is democratically elected by all members of CGSU,
  • To ensure that all schools and diverse graduate student bodies are represented within the negotiating committee, and
  • To ensure CGSU follows an “open-bargaining” process that promotes the participation of its members--having the right to be informed about and weigh in on the committee’s negotiations with the administration, and attend all negotiation meetings.

As of March 14, 2017, ten percent of the membership of CGSU has participated in the democratic process by signing a petition in favor of bringing this amendment forward for consideration by all members through the constitutional amendment process. Our hope is that this transparency and foresight ensures that our union will continue to embody our democratic principles, defined by the will of our membership, as we move toward negotiating our collective bargaining agreement with the university.  

In accordance with Article III of our Constitution, we are beginning a comment period for the proposed amendment which will allow all members to participate in open dialogue about potential amendments. All CGSU members are invited to provide comments, suggest improvements to the proposed amendment, and propose alternative negotiating committee amendments if they wish. To ensure our organizational resources remain focused on winning an election and to allow for the proposal of other amendments, the comment period will extend beyond the required 14-day minimum to April 24. Following the recognition election and after Spring Break, the Legal Affairs Committee will hold open meetings specifically to discuss all comments and suggestions regarding this proposed amendment, as well as other possible proposals.

Timeline

3/15 – Comment period begins. All comments and suggestions regarding the proposed amendment should be sent to cgsu-legal_affairs@googlegroups.com or can be presented during the open meetings that the Legal Affairs Committee will convene after Spring Break. Alternative amendments are encouraged, and can be proposed with either 10% of current membership support, or asking for direct Steering Committee approval (see Art. III). Please send completed proposal forms and any signatures to the Legal Affairs Committee cgsu-legal_affairs@googlegroups.com and the Steering Committee cgsu-sc@googlegroups.com.

4/10 – To ensure a parallel discussion of all proposals, we encourage all additional negotiating committee amendments be submitted by this date.

4/24 – Comment period ends.

5/1 – Amendment sponsors finalize language after the deliberation period.  Legal Affairs compiles and circulates a voter guide to the membership based on pro/con statements and other comments received that members would like circulated to the membership to aid in deliberation.

5/3-5 – CGSU members vote in an online referendum.  2/3 of voting majority is required for an amendment to pass.

More detailed information can be found on the Creating Our Negotiating Committee page on the CGSU website, as well as in Art. III of the CGSU Constitution.

In additional union planning news, the CGSU Secretary is currently vacant, and all members are welcome to attend and participate in the election of a new Secretary at our Union’s next General Assembly. Secondly, in April all members will be invited to elect our CGSU Steering Committee (SC) for the 2017-2018 academic year. The first step is to establish an Election Committee.  See Article V of the CGSU Constitution for more detailed information on Steering Committee elections and email the Legal Affairs Committee (cgsu-legal_affairs@googlegroups.com) if you are interested in serving on the Election Committee.  

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to contact the Legal Affairs Committee (cgsu-legal_affairs@googlegroups.com) and/or Steering Committee (cgsu-sc@googlegroups.com) should you require any assistance or have any questions.

Sincerely,

Todd Dickey, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Paul Berry, Communications Committee and Organizing Committee member
Katryn Evinson, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Ben Savitzky, CGSU Member
Matthew Fischer-Daly, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Sena Aydin, Organizing Committee Chair
Marc Kohlbry, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Bret Leraul, Legal Affairs Committee Member
Archishman Raju, Legal Affairs Committee Member

Official Dates Decided for Union Recognition Election

Official Dates Decided for Union Recognition Election

The Union-Management Committee, Cornell, and the American Arbitration Association (AAA) have agreed that the vote should take place over two days: Monday March 27 and Tuesday March 28 from 10:30am – 2:30pm and 4pm -10pm. The votes will be in-person, at four convenient locations on the Ithaca campus: Room G01 in Biotech, B73 in Warren Hall, Goldman Lounge in Duffield, and in the former Temple of Zeus space in Goldwin Smith Hall.  One location on the Geneva campus will be open for a half-day of voting from 10:30am-2:30pm on Tuesday the 28th. Grads will be assigned to different polling sites based on their campus locations.

We’re Filing for the Election! March With Us on Wednesday!

We’re Filing for the Election! March With Us on Wednesday!

We are excited to announce that today we are notifying Cornell of our intent to file for a union recognition election!


Join us this Wednesday, March 8 at 12:30 PM outside Bailey Hall where we will gather to show the administration the strength and enthusiasm of our union. We’ll kick things off with live music and some brief remarks before marching to Day Hall where we will deliver a giant 50 foot banner with over 1,200 petition signatures in support of CGSU. RSVP to our Facebook event so we know how many people to expect.

A Response to Dean Knuth's Statement on Voting

Below is a letter written by our administrative liaison in response to a recent communication from the deans about the recognition election.


Dear Graduate Workers,

My name is Michaela Brangan, PhD candidate in English. I was elected last year by Cornell Graduate Students United (CGSU) to serve as administrative liaison, and sit on the Union Management Committee (UMC), the body which discusses and interprets the rules of the road outlined in Cornell-CGSU’s campaign and election agreement.  I write today to clarify our UMC discussion of an online voting option, suggested by Cornell.

During our agreement negotiations last year, CGSU discussed the logistics of our election with Cornell, and we decided on in-person, on-campus voting instead of a mix of in-person or other methods, such as online voting. I was part of those negotiations.

Why did we decide on in-person voting?

Simply this: To ensure that democratic procedures are followed, and that voters don’t experience undue influence while they are making their decisions and casting their ballots.

There are departments in which senior faculty have made it clear to grads that they are opposed to unionization. One high-ranking professor has even attempted to convince other faculty to engage in union-busting behavior with him, declaring in a chairs’ meeting that it was “time to play whack-a-mole”—by which he was understood to mean “it’s time to stop grads from collectively organizing.” Thankfully, most Cornell faculty do recognize that it would be an abuse of power—not to mention a violation of our campaign agreement—to try to stop grads from exercising their right to organize. (The department chair who reported these statements told me she replied: “Some of us are on the side of the moles.”)

Elections have observers—it’s part of the democratic process. The job for all volunteer observers of our election will be to make sure that election rules are respected, that voters aren’t being provided false information or experience intimidation, and that any such behavior is reported immediately. With online balloting, there is no way to ensure election rules are being followed and that voters’ rights are protected. If intimidation or coercion is taking place out of sight, it seems unlikely that voters would feel un-intimidated after the fact, and report it.

Common sense suggests it would be preferable to avoid creating situations in which such behavior can go unchecked—literally, behind closed doors—in the first place. And this is beside the fact that online voting is still insecure compared to in-person voting. For an election like this one, we remain unconvinced that changing to an inferior method to save a little bit of money is the right choice.

In a recent  “Ask a Dean” post, Dean Barbara Knuth has suggested that the sole reason CGSU did not want to change balloting is because our union-wide voting process to amend the agreement is “arduous.” I am disappointed that Dean Knuth did not use the opportunity her position affords to give a fuller account of our UMC exchange, our agreement, and CGSU’s commitment to democratic processes. However, CGSU remains confident that Cornell will continue to honor its agreement with our union, both in spirit and in letter.

Thank you for reading. Please, continue to stay informed. If you have any questions about CGSU, our agreement with the university, or how the election will work, please feel free to contact me personally at michaela.jb@gmail.com, or you can get in touch with CGSU

In solidarity,

 

Michaela Brangan
CGSU English

PS: in anticipation of winning recognition, we are circulating a bargaining survey to find out what grads care about most, and would like to see in our contract. We invite you to take a bit of time to fill this out, and please: do not forget to add your name to our public list of supporters at the very end of the survey! Thank you.