November 3, 2018
Dear Graduate Students,
We know there have been a number of email communications recently regarding graduate student unionization. We write again because we have received many questions about potential election dates and the role of absentee ballots, and want to provide some clarity on these matters.
Final election dates have not yet been set, and the University continues to work with SUGSE/AFT on this and additional details, such as the number and locations of polling stations. SUGSE/AFT have proposed election dates of November 14 and 15, 2018. They have since noted a conflict with these dates because of the number of conferences happening that will require some eligible students to be away from campus, noting that this may disproportionately affect students of color. We have communicated with SUGSE that we are open to exploring other dates that are more convenient for graduate students.
The procedures for an election on unionization were negotiated as part of the June 21, 2018 Union-University Conduct Rule Pre-election Agreement, which includes the stipulation that, “The election will be conducted by manual ballot consistent with the NLRB rules and regulations.” (See page 3, Part I. 3. A.) It is important to note that the NLRB does not provide for absentee voting. The issue of absentee ballots was discussed during the Pre-election Agreement negotiations, and the resolution -- to which all parties agreed -- calls for manual ballots. For the agreement to be valid, it is critical that Brown, SUGSE and AFT abide by the stated guidelines and provisions. We have offered to re-open the agreement, if SUGSE/AFT would like, to address this and other issues and develop another binding agreement to govern an election.
We look forward to a resolution and to providing graduate students the opportunity to exercise their right to decide for themselves whether or not unionization is in their best interest.
Brown University Graduate School