Brown finalizes contract with graduate teaching, research assistants

The University and SUGSE/AFT agreed on a three-year collective bargaining agreement covering wages, hours and other terms of employment for graduate teaching assistants, research assistants and proctors.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In 2018, graduate students enrolled at Brown and engaged in research and teaching positions voted in favor of union representation. Subsequently, bargaining teams from the University and the union began negotiations toward a collective bargaining agreement on terms and conditions of employment for graduate teaching assistants, research assistants and proctors.

On June 4, 2020, Brown reached a tentative three-year agreement with Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees (SUGSE) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which together represent graduate students who hold these positions at Brown.

And on June 15, 2020, the union’s members ratified that agreement — completing the final step on approval of the contract. It will take effect beginning July 1, 2020.

In a letter to the Brown campus announcing the tentative agreement, Provost Richard M. Locke and Graduate School Dean Andrew G. Campbell called it an important moment in what has been a collaborative and productive bargaining process.

“From the earliest campus conversations on the possibility of graduate student unionization, we have made clear the essential role of graduate education at Brown and the vital contributions that graduate teaching assistants, research assistants and proctors make toward achieving our academic mission,” they wrote. “Discussions between the University and Union negotiating teams have been mutually collegial and respectful, despite different perspectives on some topics and the complexity of issues negotiated — especially given the unexpected impact of culminating the process during a global health crisis.”

With the agreement finalized, the University will begin work to fully implement all provisions in close partnership with Brown faculty, staff and the graduate students who hold these roles.

The final agreement is available on Brown’s Human Resources website.