Brown University and a group of graduate students seeking to form a union have reached an agreement establishing terms for a possible union representation among graduate students at Brown, the university announced today.
The agreement follows talks among the Brown administration and the campus organization, Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees since an August, 2016 decision by the National Labor Relations Board that ruled grad students at Columbia University were employees who have the right to unionize and bargain collectively over wages and working conditions. The Brown employees are working with the American Federation of Teachers, the large classroom teacher union.
The agreement creates a formal election plan, voter eligibility guidelines and a dispute resolution mechanism to help guide an election, Brown said in a statement.
Brown grad students have been organizing for months for a union. A group of grad students showed up at a recent forum at graduation with Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez, a Brown graduate, to press for a union. Perez, former federal labor secretary under President Barack Obama, encouraged the students to organize.
"This pre-election agrement is a win not only for grad students at Brown, but across the country," said Lubabah Chowdry, a teaching assistant in English. "Grad workers at Brown hve shown that student activism and organizing can and does afffect real change. "
The union said that the agreement is similiar to one agreed to by grad students and the administration at Georgetown Univesity in April.
Graduate students forming unions is a growing movment. Harvard University grad students in April voted to affiliate with the United Auto Workers, part of a wave of teaching assistants and research assistants embracing the labor movement.
The American Arbitration Association will oversee the union vote, which is expected to take place in the fall, according to union organizers.
Brown has more than 2,000 graduate students., according to a university spokesman.