There are two possible routes to gain official recognition of our union: the university administration can agree to a free and fair process for holding a union election, or we can seek certification through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Under either scenario, building and maintaining strong majority support among graduate student workers will drive the success of our campaign and make our union more democratic and representative.
Our organizing campaign can be broken down into these broad steps:
1) Establish a representative organizing committee. This is made up of leaders from various schools and departments who will help organize the union. Members of the organizing committee answer questions, get the word out, build support, and help make strategic decisions about forming our union. The names of many organizing committee members appear at the bottom of every BCGEU-UAW authorization card.
- Our organizing committee began meeting in Spring 2015, and has continued to grow and evolve since. Members of the committee (meet a few of them here) now come from every school at BC, and everyone is welcome to get involved.
2) Establish a supermajority of support. To build support for the union, we collect signed union authorization cards from graduate workers across Boston College. These cards establish the level of support for the union. In addition, they provide a means of gathering up-to-date contact and work information from graduate workers who support the union. These cards are ultimately used in the NLRB certification process (see below).
- At the time we filed our petition with the NLRB (more below), a large majority of eligible BC graduate workers had signed authorization cards. The Heights, BC’s independent student newspaper, named the union its Person of the Year for its efforts to bring graduate students together. If you haven’t yet signed an authorization card, you can do so here.
3) The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) restored the right of graduate workers to collectively bargain a union contract in the Columbia and the New Schools decisions in 2016.
4) Petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). We will petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency responsible for certifying unions. We will deliver our signed authorization cards to the board, who will compare them to a list of eligible workers provided by the university. If a minimum proportion of workers have signed authorization cards, the board will schedule an election.
- We filed our petition for an election and delivered our signed authorization cards to the NLRB on March 3, 2017. On May 17, 2017 the NLRB affirmed that graduate student employees at Boston College have the right to form a union and collectively bargain a contract.
5) Election. All eligible workers will be able to cast a vote on unionization. If a majority of the graduate workers who vote do so in favor of unionization, our union will be certified.
- The NLRB has set the election date for September 12-13, 2017. Polling stations will be on at McElroy Commons on the Chestnut Hill Campus, and at Stuart House on the Newton Campus. (You will only be allowed to vote on your own campus.) Go here for poll hours and more information about the election, or add the Facebook event as a reminder.
6) Election of Bargaining Committee. Once our union is certified, we will elect our bargaining committee. This committee will consist of graduate workers from Boston College, elected by the membership, who are willing to take on the substantial commitment of helping to negotiate our first contract. Any worker who has signed a union authorization card will be eligible to vote for the bargaining committee, and any graduate worker can sign a card at any time.
7) Collect Bargaining Surveys. The bargaining committee will circulate surveys among the membership which members can use to tell the committee what they want to see in a contract. This is an opportunity for all workers to describe the changes they would like to see in their working conditions and compensation, as well as to emphasize which current aspects of their work that they would like protected.
8) Vote to Accept Bargaining Goals. Based on bargaining survey responses, the bargaining committee will create a list of bargaining goals, which will be broad and all-encompassing. These goals must then be ratified by a vote of the membership.
9) Negotiate a contract. With the priorities established in the bargaining survey, the committee will bargain a contract with the administration.
10) Vote on Tentative Agreement. The bargaining committee will negotiate a draft contract, called a “tentative agreement,” with the administration. The membership will then vote on the agreement. If they accept it, then we have our first contract. If they choose to reject it, then the bargaining committee will return to the negotiating table.
10a) Union Dues. Graduate workers do not pay dues until we have voted to accept our first union contract. Union dues are 1.44% of our annual income earned.
11) Enforcement, Election of Officers, Establish Local Union. Once we have our first contract in place, we will elect our officers and stewards, whose responsibility is to enforce our contract. We will also vote on a set of bylaws which will determine how we govern our local and how we spend our dues.