Georgetown Relents, Lets Students Vote On Unionizing

Rob Shimshock | Education Reporter

Georgetown University announced Monday that it will allow its graduate students to vote on forming a union, overturning a December refusal.

The school will let graduate students vote in the spring on whether or not they will unionize under the American Federation of Teachers, reported The Washington Post.

“Today’s agreement creates a new framework recognizing that graduate students’ relationship with the university is fundamentally an educational one, while also responding to their desire to have a stronger voice in the terms of their service as teaching assistants, research assistants and teaching associates,” Georgetown Provost Robert M. Groves and health sciences executive vice president Edward B. Healton said in an email obtained by WaPo.

Georgetown blocked a December attempt by graduate students to unionize, claiming that graduate student work constituted education. The Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees secured the ability to hold an election after offering to conduct the unionization vote without the National Labor Relations Board. The American Arbitration Association, a D.C.-area nonprofit, will instead oversee the election.

“This negotiation took a while, and our members were always ready to show our strength at every turn,” graduate student alliance member and psychology doctoral candidate Kevin Carriere said. “In the end, we’re extremely happy with this agreement. It ensures we get our vote and brings Georgetown to the bargaining table once we win.”

If graduate students vote in favor of unionizing, they will discuss wages, benefits, hours and leave policies with the Georgetown administration. The students will not be able to impact admissions and scholarship decisions, course curriculum, or research and teacher assistant positions.

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