Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

March 12, 2017

Vote on Graduate Student Union Scheduled for March 27, 28

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Cornell Graduate Students United announced on Sunday that the graduate student union recognition election will take place later in March.

This announcement comes less than a week after CGSU notified the University of its intention to file a representation petition with the American Arbitration Association.

CGSU will be filing their union membership cards to the AAA for verification on Monday, according to Michaela Brangan grad, administrative liaison for CGSU. In order for an election to be triggered, the AAA must verify that CGSU has collected signatures from at least 30 percent of its bargaining unit.

According to CGSU’s announcement, the voting will take place over two days: Monday, March 27 and Tuesday, March 28 — both from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Graduate students will be assigned to different polling locations on campus, including Room G01 in Biotech, B73 in Warren Hall, Goldman Lounge in Duffield Hall and in the former Temple of Zeus space in Goldwin Smith Hall. There will be one additional location off-campus in Geneva, open only on Tuesday, March 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Following CGSU’s notification to the University, members met with the Union Management Committee and members of Cornell administration — Barbara Knuth, dean of the graduate school, Jason Kahabka, associate dean for administration and Mary Opperman, vice president for human resources, and safety services — to decide the locations on campus where voting would take place, according to Brangan.

“We arranged among ourselves what we thought would be a good mix of different spots on campus to make sure that everybody was conveniently able to vote,” Brangan said. “We broke it up into two blocks so that people who maybe don’t come onto campus into later in the afternoon, who stay late, would still have the opportunity to vote.”

Per an agreement with the University, CGSU chose to only allow in-person, on-campus voting. The purpose for this decision was to “ensure election rules are being followed and that voters’ rights are protected,” Brangan said in a statement.

For this reason, CGSU intentionally chose to disallow online balloting.

“We want on-campus voting is so that people are able to vote securely and ensure their rights are being protected,” Brangan told The Sun. “I know that a lot of people might think that online is more convenient, which is true for a lot of things, but it’s also less secure.”

The result of this election will determine the establishment of a graduate student union, as the University has negotiated in its contract with CGSU that it will recognize the union.

“If a majority (50 percent + 1) of the Graduate Assistants voting in an election conducted pursuant to the terms of this Agreement votes in favor of representation by the union, Cornell shall immediately grant recognition to the union as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the united with all the rights and obligations of a union certified by the NLRB to the extent consistent with this Agreement,” the contract reads.

14 thoughts on “Vote on Graduate Student Union Scheduled for March 27, 28

  1. I’m a TA and I make like $15 an hr and only work 8 hours a week. I read I’ll pay 2% of my salary to the union, but we already get about 2% more per year. So I’m losing money. I’m part time and don’t qualify for healthcare/vision/dental anyway. I see that 2% of my salary will be gone with no benefits for me. Vote NO! Those of us that are poor will have higher tuition to pay to offset the cost of providing all the other stuff the union promises for us. Vote NO!

    • If we get guaranteed regular increases in pay, and pay between 1-2% gross pay per year (taken out of our checks), the initial pay increase alone (for NYU it was a massive initial pay increase) will more than cover that and then we have years of accrual on top of that first percentage increase–not to mention the other benefits we will negotiate for. While dues remain constant unless and until we decide to change them.

      Contracts often have tuition breaks included in them and I can only imagine ours will, since the fact that tuition is something the university arbitrarily charges us and then remits back to itself. I don’t think any grad who works should have to pay for the privilege.

      Hopefully, you will become better-informed by the time the election rolls around and realize that there is NO way our union will pass a contract that punishes its members. We ARE our union.

        • Oh sorry, didn’t mean to be condescending!

          I really hope that if the Poor TA is in such bad shape, that he/she would want to participate in his/her union to figure out ways to fix that bad situation.

          There’s lots of info out there, hopefully everyone will get themselves informed on what matters most to them.

          • Wow. Sorry you’re poor. Please pay us money now that could buy food so you won’t be poor.

            What if the ta doesn’t identify as male or female. Did u just assume their gender?

  2. To claim that online voting is insecure in this day and age is ridiculous. And, I understand why CGSU wants to restrict voting to in-person, on-campus – active voices in support of the Union are more likely to turn up as compared passive voices that are against the Union or undecided individuals. It is important to recall that CGSU only needs 50% + 1 out of the people that SHOW UP to vote (and not of the entire body of grad students eligible to vote). However, I also concede that the burden of any result that stems from non-participation in the voting process lies on those who did not exercise their right to vote. So get out and VOTE.

    • By that logic, Cornell student elections should not be online because it isn’t secure! Funny that Cornell students protest laws that require an ID to vote but are okay with voter suppression by knowing many graduate students cannot vote during that time. Why no voting from 2:30pm to 4pm?

      • Hi, it’s Michaela, quoted above 🙂 I consulted with several folks in our computer science department to verify my limited knowledge about this, and they directed me to several articles that show that yes, even now, online is far less secure than in-person voting, so we opted not to change our original agreement with the university. I link to one layperson-friendly article in a statement I made about this issue a little while ago; that statement also contains the other reasons why we negotiated for in-person voting: https://cornellgsu.org/news/2017/2/24/a-response-to-dean-knuths-statement-on-voting

        How Cornell decides to conduct other polling is perhaps something you should question, but as far as CGSU and Cornell goes, we all agreed back in May that on-campus voting was what would occur, and both parties are working to make sure it’s as convenient as possible for grads. If you have any questions about the process by which we arrived at this decision, feel free to email me: it’s at the bottom of the statement I linked to above.

        I am not actually aware of any large number of bargaining unit members who cannot vote at the times and days listed; is there something I should know? In our meetings with Cornell, this was not told to us. I am working under the knowledge that March 27 and 28 are two in-session dates that do not conflict with breaks or other grad-specific events and that if that weren’t the case, the Dean would have said something.

        I’m personally really excited to see democracy in action at Cornell! I hope everyone exercises their right and gets informed before the big vote! There’s lots of information that has been compiled by CGSU grads in response to grads’ questions on our website, including an “issues” page and an FAQ.

        cornellgsu.org/faq/
        cornellgsu.org/issues/

    • Oh hi! Since your group sprang up a few months ago for the sole purpose of hurting a student movement that’s been growing over three years, I think you can safely say that the details you provide are biased, there to get people to stop supporting CGSU. Now is surely the time to be honest about that, no?

      I am not sure what you mean with the scare quotes–is there not “information” on CGSU’s website? Is this like calling information you don’t like “fake news”?

      Don’t mean to annoy you! I do wish I knew what motivated you to detest the idea of grad unionization so much though…it’s been really beneficial to grads at dozens of other schools over the years, and Columbia’s grad union, which won recognition a few months ago, has just elected its committee to start bargaining with their university. https://columbiagradunion.org/

  3. Hi im thinking about voting, but do we need our IDs or can anyone just come in and vote? I usually forget my Cornell ID and I wanna make sure i have it if I needed.

  4. Pingback: Vote on Graduate Student Union Scheduled for March 27, 28 | The Cornell Daily Sun – Emory Graduate Students Unite!

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