Our History

May 2013:

-University of Connecticut (UConn) Human Resources Department holds a meeting with

graduate assistants on health and dental benefit changes for the 2013-2014 academic year. On

top of stagnant wages, increasing workloads, and increasing student fees, students attending the

meeting speak of unionizing.

October 2013:

-Survey on graduate assistant unionization is administered and shows overwhelming support.

-Information sessions on graduate assistant unionization are held to recruit graduate assistants to

the task force.

-Task force presents the idea of graduate assistant unionization at a meeting of the Graduate

Student Senate (GSS) to recruit graduate assistants to the task force.

-Task force is formed with fifteen graduate assistants from twelve departments.

-Task force reaches out to five national/international unions.

November 2013:

-Task force interviews three national/international unions.

-Task force flyers over 600 graduate students at an event on campus.

-GSS passes resolution of support for unionization.

December 2013:

-Task force confers and selects United Auto Workers (UAW).

January 2014:

-Task force becomes an organizing committee of twenty from fifteen departments.

-Organizing committee members select department assignments and recruit department leaders

from each department to be listed on the authorization card and to talk to their co-workers.

-Organizing committee begins building a list of all graduate assistants.

-University attempts to ask the GSS to advise them to raise premiums for everyone or just for

graduate assistants with dependents; GSS, with the assistance of the organizing committee,

refuses and instead passes an additional resolution of support for unionization.

-Organizing committee flyers over 200 graduate students and recruits department leaders at GSS

happy hour.

-UAW hosts organizing training for organizing committee members and department leaders.

-At UAW Region 9A Civil Rights Dinner, organizing committee speaks with Governor Malloy.

February 2014:

-Department leaders from more than fifty departments agree to be listed on the authorization card

and to talk to their co-workers.

-February 14: Card drive begins.

-UAW and organizing committee host another set of organizing trainings for department leaders.

-Faculty circulate a petition of support.

March 2014:

-Card drive reaches majority support (50%).

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin organizing for visa seminar for

international students.

-More than seventy state and federal legislators sign a statement of support to the President.

April 2014:

-Faculty submit a 200-signature petition of support to the Provost.

-Staff union sends statement of support to the President.

-Organizing committee holds visa seminar for international students.

-Card drive reaches supermajority support (70%).

-April 11: University signs neutrality agreement, which agrees to respect the majority’s choice

and agrees to card-check neutrality.

-April 17: Petition is filed at the state board of labor relations, and union is certified.

-Bargaining committee nominations are collected.

May 2014:

-Bargaining committee elections are held.

-Bargaining survey is created and begins being administered.

-Bargaining committee develops bargaining goals.

-Bargaining unit members vote on bargaining goals.

-Bargaining committee begins holding regular information sessions.

June 2014:

-Bargaining committee has its first negotiating session with the University. University rejects

bargaining over the summer and decides to hire outside counsel.

August 2014:

-A majority of bargaining unit members complete bargaining surveys in person, over the phone,

or online.

-Department leaders and organizing committee members sign incoming students up on

authorization cards at department and university orientations.

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin organizing for bargaining demonstration.

-August 22: More than 50 graduate assistants from nearly 30 departments demonstrate at the first

negotiating session with the University.

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin organizing for a petition for a fair contract

as soon as possible.

September 2014:

-A majority of bargaining unit members sign on to the petition for a fair contract as soon as

possible.

-September 24: More than 100 graduate assistants present the petition for a fair contract as soon

as possible to the Board of Trustees at its meeting.

-Organizing committee begins organizing Connecticut voter registration for graduate assistants

and undergraduate students.

October 2014:

-October 2: More than 200 graduate assistants rally to support the re-election of Governor

Malloy, whose pressure was crucial to securing a neutrality agreement with the University and

whose pressure will be crucial to securing a fair contract.

-Organizing committee and department leaders participate in “dorm storms” to register

University of Connecticut undergraduates to vote in upcoming elections.

November 2014:

-Organizing committee and department leaders get out the vote. Governor Malloy and local

candidates win election and re-election.

-United Auto Workers and organizing committee host another set of organizing trainings for

department leaders.

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin organizing for arbitration vote.

-Voting on authorizing the bargaining committee to invoke arbitration begins.

December 2014:

– A majority of bargaining unit members vote to authorize the bargaining committee to invoke

arbitration. The University, in response, agrees to a more intensive bargaining schedule.

January 2015:

-Union receives the Benny Thornton Labor—Civil Rights Achievement Award at the United

Auto Workers Region 9A Civil Rights Dinner.

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin collecting whiteboard photos (“I want a

strong contract now because . . .”) for strategic deployment on social media.

February 2015:

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin organizing for work-in.

-Organizing committee recruits members to testify in favor of legislation regarding graduate

assistant benefits and fees in Hartford. Members testify in Hartford.

-February 18 and 19: More than 200 graduate assistants attend the work-in.

-OC members and volunteers lobby CT legislature for two bills affecting issues we are

bargaining over (non-discrimination and health care)

March 2015:

-Organizing committee recruits members to testify in favor of legislation regarding graduate

assistant benefits and fees in Hartford. Members testify in Hartford.

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin collecting “thank you cards” and medical

and dental bills for University bargaining team, which believes that graduate assistants should be

thankful for existing health and dental benefits.

-March 12: Organizing committee and department leaders deliver nearly 300 “thank you cards”

to President.

April 2015:

-Organizing committee and department leaders flyer a University of Connecticut men’s

basketball game.

-Organizing committee and department leaders flyer incoming students and parents on campus

tours.

-Members publish a series of op-eds on important aspects of the contract that haven’t yet been

settled.

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin organizing for a sit-in.

-April 21: More than 300 graduate assistants attend a sit-in. A tentative agreement is secured.

-A majority of bargaining unit members vote to ratify the tentative agreement.

May 2015:

-Organizing committee and department leaders begin organizing for membership card signing.

-Bylaws committee is formed.

July 2015:

-Collective bargaining agreement takes effect.

August 2015:

-Department leaders and organizing committee members sign incoming students up on

authorization cards at department and university orientations.

September 2015:

-Membership vote on bylaws

October 2015:

-First Executive Board and Stewards are elected. The Local is official.